Nigeria, Turkish sailors kidnapped

15 Turkish sailors kidnapped by pirates in Nigeria released

The 15 sailors were kidnapped in late January when their ship was boarded by pirates in the Gulf of Guinea. One of the crew was killed.

The 15 Turkish sailors kidnapped by pirates off the coast of Nigeria were released yesterday and are safe and sound, according to Turkish media, citing sources linked to the shipping company that owns the M/V Mozart cargo ship, which on January 23 was boarded by armed men in the Gulf of Guinea, considered the most pirated area in the world.

According to the published information, all the sailors are safe and have already established contact with their families before their return to Turkey, which is expected to take place in the shortest possible time. In a statement, the shipping companies involved in the incident, Borealis Maritime and Boden Maritime, thanked the governments of Turkey and Nigeria “for their support during these 3 difficult weeks.”

The communique also expressed condolences to the family of the crew member killed during the boarding, an Azerbaijani national, the only non-Turk of the crew; likewise, the companies praised the courage of the three crew members who remained on board and led the ship to a safe harbour, after the pirates disabled all the cargo ship’s systems.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu also confirmed to the public television channel TRT Haber that all the kidnapped sailors are well, adding that they will be repatriated to Turkey on a Turkish Airlines plane departing from the Nigerian capital Abuja. Çavuşoğlu underlined the importance of the ships sailing through this region of the world to take extra security measures, as well as the need to increase international cooperation.

“We must learn a lesson from this”

“Although we have saved our citizens, Turkey will provide the necessary support to prevent these events,” said the minister. “We must learn a lesson from this, and work together to make sure this does not happen again,” he insisted.

The Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs reported that a team from the Turkish intelligence services (MİT) was sent to Nigeria to follow the kidnapping in real time and on the ground. It is, however, unknown whether the release took place in exchange for the payment of a ransom, which the kidnappers requested two weeks ago after first contacting Boden Maritime.

The M/V Mozart was sailing from Lagos, Nigeria, to Cape Town, South Africa when it was boarded on January 23 about 185 kilometres northwest of the island nation of São Tomé and Príncipe. Although the 19 crew members managed to lock themselves in a safe zone for several hours, the assailants finally managed to enter, and one of the sailors died in the struggle. 15 Turkish sailors were kidnapped by the pirates, while the other three were forced to take the ship to Gabon.