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Greek ship crew held hostage by pirates

November 29, 2020

Greek authorities say negotiations are underway to free three sailors kidnapped off the Nigerian coast. Analysts warn there has been a "sharp increase" in incidents in the Gulf of Guinea.

A tanker sails past the coast of West Africa
Image: dapd

The owner of a fuel tanker is in talks to secure the release of three Greek sailors who were abducted by pirates off the coast of West Africa, the Greek government said Sunday.

The crew of the Togo-flagged vessel Stelios K was attacked in the Gulf of Guinea on November 16.

Pirates took the captain and two of the crew hostage. Two other sailors who remained on board were able to steer the ship safely to Nigerian port of Lagos.

Read more: Who will help solve Africa's piracy problem in the Gulf of Guinea?

A statement from Athens' Merchant Navy Ministry said all five of the crew were in good health. It added that the ship's owner, Royal Ship Management, was negotiating for the hostages' release.

Spike in attacks

In a statement quoted by the Athens News Agency, the Greek sailors union PENEN called on the government to "take the initiative both at the international maritime level and with the governments of the countries where attacks take place, so that the problem can be dealt with as effectively as possible."

It also said families of the abductees should be kept informed of how the negotiations with the pirates are progressing.

Read moreWest Africa's tough battle with piracy

The attack on the Stelios K was the 23rd kidnapping in the Gulf of Guinea this year, with a total of 118 people taken hostage, according to the UK-based maritime security company Dryad Global. Following the kidnapping, the firm issued a "critical risk rating" for the region, warning vessels to exercise heightened caution after a "sharp increase in incidents."

nm/aw (AFP, Lusa)

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