Pirates attack container ship off Nigeria, abduct 15 Turkish sailors
ISTANBUL (TURKEY) – As many as 15 Turkish crew of a container vessel were kidnapped by pirates off the coast of Nigeria on Saturday in what is seen as a violent attack farther from shore than usual.
During the pirate raid, an Azerbaijani crew member was killed and those kidnapped are all from Turkey.
As per accounts from the crew, family members and security sources, it was a well-orchestrated attack on Saturday in which heavily armed pirates boarded the vessel and breached its protective citadel using explosives.
There are three sailors on the Mozart, which got help in Gabonese territorial waters off the coast of Central Africa on Sunday evening.
“The ship is in our waters and our sailors are assisting a few nautical miles from Port Gentil,” said Gabon’s presidency spokesman Jessye Ella Ekogha.
The Liberian-flagged ship was headed to Cape Town in South Africa from the Nigerian port city of Lagos when it came under pirate attack some 160 kilometres (100 miles) off Sao Tome island, as per maritime reports.
The office of Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Sunday that he was coordinating efforts to “rescue the kidnapped ship personnel”.
He spoke by phone twice with the fourth captain of the vessel Furkan Yaren.
According to state-controlled Anadolu agency, Yaren said he had been “cruising blindly” toward Gabon despite damage to the ship’s controls and only the radar was functional. Pirates beat crew members and left Yaren with an injured leg. Another crew member was left with shrapnel wounds.
Turkish media reported that Boden, which gives technical management services for the ship, said the operators were taken at gunpoint.
As per the report of Ambrey, a security agency, four armed pirates boarded the ship and entered the citadel – where the crew are told to take shelter when there is an attack – through a hatch or the door.
Nigerian Navy commander Edward Yeibo said he was unaware of the attack by pirates and said he was seeking more details.