LAGOS, July 19 (Xinhua) -- Nigeria has deployed warships and troops in a massive operation to end pirates' attacks on local and international merchant ships in the Gulf of Guinea, the Nigerian navy said Wednesday.
The operation sought to contain high spate of attacks by thieves on critical oil and gas installations and other criminality prevalent in the nation's territorial waters, the country's Chief of Naval Staff (CNS), Vice Adm. Iboke-Ete Ibas, said.
He spoke at the launch of the special operation, code-named "Tsare Teku V", in Onne, Rivers State.
The operation was a continuation of an earlier operation launched in the first quarter of 2016 to protect offshore oil and gas facilities and economic activities, he added.
According to him, the operation has yielded positive results with significant improvement in the safety of shipping and offshore oil and gas facilities.
"It is gratifying to note that between January and June 2017, there were only four successful attacks on shipping within Nigeria's waters as against 36 between January and June 2016," he said.
"This improvement in security situation within Nigeria's offshore maritime domain is attributable to the intensive patrols and efforts of Operation Tsare Teku," the navy chief added.
Ibas said the International Maritime Bureau in its first quarter 2017 report on piracy and armed robbery in the Gulf of Guinea attributed current decline to the efforts of the Nigerian navy.
The navy chief added that the report observed that the area remained a kidnap hot spot for criminals, especially hijackers.
"This report re-emphasizes the need for sustenance of the operation, and as such, made it imperative to extend the operation by another six months," he said.
"The Nigerian Navy remains absolutely committed to creating a secure and enabling maritime environment for economic activities to thrive toward national growth," Ibas added.
The Gulf of Guinea, which is believed to hold as much as 10 percent of the world's oil reserves, has been plagued by pirates, smugglers and other criminals.