The number of kidnappings reported off the West African coast in the year through September is 40% higher than the same period in 2019, according to the International Maritime Bureau.

Piracy incidents in the Gulf of Guinea contributed to a total of 132 global attacks in the first nine months of 2020, up from 119 in the prior period, the IMB said in a report Wednesday. Out of 85 sailors taken for ransom around the world, 80 were seized off the coast of Nigeria, Benin, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea and Ghana, it said.

Incidents on vessels in West African waters have been rising in recent years, with attacks targeting crew rather than the ship or its cargo. The region has overtaken southeast Asia as the worst area for piracy and kidnappings, driving up insurance premiums for shippers.

Photograph: This Monday, Feb. 22, 2016 file photo shows a rescued Panama-flagged Maximus vessel at the Naval dock yard. It was supposed to be a U.S.-led naval training maneuver off the coast of West Africa when real-life drama intervened, with pirates taking over an oil tanker and turning the exercise into a rescue mission. Navies from the United States, Ghana, Togo and Nigeria tracked the hijacked tanker through waters off five countries before Nigerian naval forces stormed aboard Saturday Feb. 20, 2016 amid a shootout that killed one of the pirates. Photo credit: AP Photo/Sunday Alamba, file.