|(LAGOS, Nigeria) — A group that monitors piracy says well-armed pirates are using new strategies to hijack ships and widening their area of operations amid a “worrying surge” in attacks, kidnappings and armed robberies in West Africa’s oil-rich Gulf of Guinea. Cameroonian Prof. Joseph Vincent Ntuda Ebode says piracy cost the region $2 billion last year with some shipping companies avoiding ports in the danger zone. The London-based International Maritime Bureau’s Cyrus Moody says in one attack pirates boarded a container ship and kidnapped the crew some 170 miles (274 kilometers) off the coast of Nigeria. He says it shows “a very different modus operandi” and “capacity to travel further distances.” The bureau’s report published Monday says Nigeria suffered 22 actual and attempted attacks so far this year, up from six in 2011. MORE: Saving Somalia: Can President Hassan Fix the World’s Most Failed State?