Pirates have released six Russian seafarers kidnapped from the containership MSC Mandy during an attack off the coast of Benin earlier this month.
Russia’s TASS news agency reports their release has been confirmed by the Russian embassy in Nigeria.
The Panamanian-flagged MSC Mandy with 24 crew members onboard came under attack by armed pirates on January 2, 2019 as it was underway approximately 55 nautical miles south of Cotonou, Benin. Following the attack, six crew members including the captain were reported missing. The remaining crew sailed the ship to a safe port.
Russia later confirmed that all six seafarers abducted with Russian nationals.
“We confirm that the Russian sailors have been released. They are alive and well,” a spokesman for the Russian Embassy in Nigeria told TASS. “The question of sending them back home is being decided.”
According to data from the International Maritime Bureau’s Piracy Reporting Centre, the Gulf of Guinea saw a surge in pirate attacks in 2018. During the year, the IMB recorded six hijackings, 13 ships fired upon, 130 hostages taken, 78 seafarers kidnapped for ransom, making the region one of the most dangerous places on earth for ships and crews.
Due to the issue, shipping association BIMCO has called for international naval action to help combat piracy in the region – something we haven’t seen since the scourge of piracy in Horn of Africa region more than a decade ago.