ANKARA, Feb 12 (Reuters) – Fifteen Turkish sailors kidnapped by pirates last month in the Gulf of Guinea have been freed in Nigeria and will head home, a shipping company executive said on Friday, two weeks after the attackers made contact to discuss a ransom.
One sailor, a citizen of Azerbaijan, was killed in the raid on Jan. 23 which crew, family members and security sources described as a sophisticated and well-orchestrated attack. Those kidnapped were from Turkey.
Speaking to state TV broadcaster TRT Haber, Levent Karsan from Istanbul-based Boden Shipping said the sailors were all in good health in Nigeria and would be brought to Turkey in the coming days.
“This wasn’t a political kidnapping. This kind of kidnapping happens in that region unfortunately and is completely aimed at getting ransom,” Karsan said. Talks to free the sailors had been handled by a team based in Hamburg, he added.
The Liberian-flagged container ship, the Mozart, was headed to Cape Town from Lagos when it was attacked 160 km (100 miles) off Sao Tome island, maritime reports showed. The pirates made first contact with Boden on Jan. 28 to discuss ransom.
Karsan did not share details of the talks but said he hoped the incident would prompt officials at the United Nations and International Maritime Organisation to take action against piracy in the region.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu later said that a British company had handled negotiations, but gave no details. He also told TRT Haber a team had been sent to countries in the region to discuss preventing such incidents.
“We must learn a lesson from this and work together to make sure this doesn’t happen again,” Cavusoglu said on TRT. (Reporting by Tuvan Gumrukcu and Ezgi Erkoyun; Editing by Jonathan Spicer and Timothy Heritage)
(c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2021.
Statement from Borealis Maritime:
Hamburg, London, February 12, 2021 – Borealis Maritime and Boden Denizcilik are delighted to report that all fifteen of our officers and crew abducted from our vessel MV MOZART in the Gulf of Guinea on January 23rd have been released and are now safe. The men have meanwhile been in contact with their families. All crewmembers will be repatriated to Turkey as soon as possible.
We offer our congratulations and thanks to our officers and crew, and their families for the strength, trust and patience they have shown during this ordeal. We would like to thank the Turkish and Nigerian Governments and their officers and agencies, the wider Borealis community on land and at sea, and all those who have helped us resolve this situation, for their support throughout this difficult three weeks.
Our thoughts remain with our friend and colleague who lost his life in the initial attack on MV MOZART. Finally we would like to complement our three crew members for their courage and discipline shown in bringing their vessel back to safety.
We will issue a further statement when our men are home and safely reunited with their families.
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