Africa, pirates kidnapping a ship

Turkey negotiates the release of sailors kidnapped in Nigeria

15 of the 19 Turkish crew of a ship remain kidnapped after pirates boarded the vessel off the coast of Nigeria. One sailor was killed.

Turkish authorities are continuing efforts to rescue sailors kidnapped by pirates off the coast of Nigeria and are negotiating the release of the crew in exchange for ransom, the office of Turkish President Tayyip Erdoğan reported in an official statement.

Erdoğan himself reportedly had a telephone conversation with the ship’s 4th captain, Furkan Yaren, who is now in command of the vessel after 15 of the 19 crew members were kidnapped on Saturday morning when a group of pirates attacked the Libyan-flagged ship M/V Mozart while sailing between the port of Lagos (Nigeria) and Cape Town (South Africa), about 100 nautical miles northwest of São Tomé and Príncipe.

During the boarding of the ship, which occurred in the dangerous Gulf of Guinea, several armed men seized the cargo ship; initially, the crew managed to lock themselves in a safe zone, but after 6 hours the attackers managed to enter, dying during the struggle one of the crew members. The victim was identified as Farman Ismayilov from Azerbaijan, being the only non-Turkish crew member of the ship.

Later, the pirates kidnapped 15 crew members and left three other crew members on board the ship, in which they disabled all the systems, excep the navigation systems, ordering the three crew members to go to the port of Gabon, where the M/V Mozart anchored early Sunday.

The Gulf of Guinea concentrates 90% of world’s piracy

On Sunday, the Turkish president was informed of the incident as well as about the status of the three sailors who managed to reach port. Since then the Turkish authorities have been in close contact with the crew and have started negotiations with the hijackers to secure the release of the rest of the crew.

The Gulf of Guinea is the area with the highest piracy activity in the world, concentrating more than 90% of the kidnappings of sailors, although in this case the great distance from the coast where the attack took place is surprising. In 2019 another 10 Turkish sailors were kidnapped by pirates off the coast of Nigeria, and later released a month later after paying a ransom.