Ten Turkish sailors kidnapped off Nigerian coast

Nigerian pirates have taken hostage ten Turkish sailors after attacking their cargo vessel off the coast of Nigeria in the latest attack to hit the Gulf of Guinea.

Shipping company Kadioglu Denizcilik said its ship, the Paksoy-1, was attacked in the Gulf of Guinea on Saturday evening by pirates on speedboats as it sailed from Cameroon to Ivory Coast without freight. Ten sailors were taken hostage by armed pirates whilst another eight Turkish sailors were left safely on board.

After the pirates left the ship it was taken to Ghana’s Tema port, and Ghanaian and Nigerian authorities are working on returning the captured sailors, the Turkish foreign ministry said.

“According to initial information, there were no injuries or casualties. Efforts for all our personnel to be safely released continue,” Kadioglu Denizcilik said in a statement. It added that communication and navigation equipment was damaged.

Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, the spokesman for Turkey’s ruling AK Party said the government was closely following the matter and called for the sailors to be returned safely.

According to the International Maritime Bureau’s (IMB’s) latest piracy report, released last week, the seas around West Africa remain the world’s most dangerous for piracy. Of 75 seafarers taken hostage aboard or kidnapped for ransom worldwide so far this year, 62 were captured in the Gulf of Guinea – off the coasts of Nigeria, Guinea, Togo, Benin and Cameroon.

The IMB report reveals 73% of all kidnappings at sea and 92% of hostage-takings, happened in the Gulf of Guinea. Armed pirates in these high-risk waters kidnapped 27 crew members in the first half of 2019 and 25 in the same period in 2018. Two chemical tankers were hijacked as well as a tug then used in another attack. Of the nine vessels fired on worldwide, eight were off the coast of Nigeria, Africa’s top oil producer. Attacks took place on average 65 nautical miles off the coast – classifying them as acts of piracy.

There are encouraging signs of improvement. IMB reports “a welcome and marked decrease” in attacks in the Gulf of Guinea for the second quarter of 2019, commending the Nigerian navy for responding to reported incidents by dispatching patrol boats. While many attacks go unreported, IMB recorded 21 incidents around Nigeria to date in 2019, down from 31 in the same period of 2018.

Naval vessels from Equatorial Guinea and Spain intervened in May 2019 when a Nigerian tug was hijacked 41 nautical miles off Luba, Equatorial Guinea. Soon after, pirates used the tug to launch an attack on a Maltese heavy load carrier. The crew retreated into the ship’s citadel, a safe room for protection against attackers. When the navies responded pirates left the vessel and the crew were freed.

The most recent incident in the Gulf of Guinea reported by the IMB took place on 3 May when a tanker 100 nautical miles southwest of Brass, Nigeria, was chased by a speedboat and fired on. The alarm was raised, the vessel increased speed and commenced evasive manoeuvres and non-essential crew mustered in the citadel. Due to evasive manoeuvres, the boarding was evaded.

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