11 Turkish crew members of cargo ship kidnapped by pirate off Nigeria, one killed

A Turkish cargo ship with a largely Turkish crew that was attacked off Nigeria on Saturday January 23 is now anchored off neighboring Gabon with the body of a slain Azerbaijani sailor due to be brought to shore.

According to Turkish officials, the Liberian-flagged cargo ship Mozart anchored at Port-Gentil at 11 a.m. (0800GMT) on Sunday.

Turkey’s Maritime Directorate said the crew initially locked themselves in a safe area but the pirates forced entry after six hours. During the struggle, one crew member aboard the M/V Mozart died.

Turkish media identified the victim as engineer Farman Ismayilov of Azerbaijan, the only non-Turkish crew member.

After taking most of the crew, the pirates left the ship in the Gulf of Guinea with three sailors aboard. The vessel is currently at Gabon’s Port-Gentil.

Meanwhile Turkey has launched diplomatic efforts to find kidnapped crew members.

Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said Turkey has begun initiatives for the safe return of its citizens from the pirates.

These thugs, pirates who kidnapped our citizens have not yet contacted us, he explained.
There have been attacks on our ships and other countries' ships before. They call after a certain time and make their demands. But all kinds of preparation and work have been done, he added.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has twice spoken to the senior officer remaining on the ship, Furkan Yaren, the Turkish presidency said in a tweet. It added that Erdoğan issued orders for the recovery of the kidnapped crew.

After pirate attack, ship with Turkish crew at port in Gabon

Company officials expressed condolences and support for the crew's families and called for a sensitive approach to the rescue for the sake of crew members noting that they were trying to solve the problem as soon as possible in the safest way.

Turkish embassies in surrounding countries, including Nigeria, have been mobilized for the crew, diplomatic sources added.

The Liberian-flagged Mozart was sailing from Lagos, Nigeria, to Cape Town in South Africa when it was attacked 100 nautical miles (185 km) northwest of the island nation of Sao Tome and Principe on Saturday morning.

According to reports, the pirates disabled most of the ship’s systems, leaving only the navigation system for the remaining crew to find their way to the port. The Maritime Traffic website showed the vessel’s location was last recorded at 16:39 GMT on Saturday.

The Gulf of Guinea, off the coasts of Nigeria, Guinea, Togo, Benin and Cameroon, is the most dangerous sea in the world for piracy, according to the International Maritime Bureau.

In July 2019, 10 Turkish seamen were kidnapped off the coast of Nigeria. They were released less than a month later.

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