Ten Turkish sailors have been kidnapped by gunmen off the coast of Nigeria in what is presumed to be a hostage situation for ransom.
Shipping company Kadioglu Denizcilik stated the sailors were attacked by “pirates” while heading from Cameroon to the Ivory Coast, in which the Turkish-flagged Paksoy-2 cargo ship was posted in the Gulf of Guinea without any freight on board.
Turkey’s foreign ministry said the sailors were taken hostage Saturday evening when the vessel carried 18 Turkish crew members at the time of the attack; Turkish television news channel NTV said the pirates approached the ship on speed boats before seizing the sailors.
The remaining eight crew members were rescued and taken to Ghana, the ministry stated, and the missing crew members have not been heard from since.
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“According to initial information, there were no injuries or casualties,” the shipping company said. “Efforts for all our personnel to be safely released continue.”
Further details about the incident are not currently available.
The International Maritime Bureau (IMB) describes the Gulf of Guinea as the most dangerous area in the world for shipping – 73% of all sea kidnappings and 92% of hostage cases occur in the area with pirates regularly seizing sailors for ransom.
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In the first half of 2019, armed pirates kidnapped 27 mariners, and of nine vessels attacked across the world, eight were off the coast of Nigeria.
However, Nigeria reported 14 attacks at sea in the first quarter of 2019 compared to 22 at roughly the same time the year prior.
An IMB report in April credited the decrease in attacks to Nigeria’s navy ramping up its efforts to “actively respond to reported incidents by dispatching patrol boats.”
Omer Celik, a spokesman for Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party, spoke to reporters on Tuesday and said the foreign ministry and intelligence agencies were closely following the situation and called for the sailors’ safe release.