West Africa: Pirates launch deadly attack on Turkish ship off Nigeria | News | DW | 24.01.2021
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West Africa: Pirates launch deadly attack on Turkish ship off Nigeria

The Gulf of Guinea, where the attack took place, is considered the most dangerous sea in the world for piracy. One crew member was killed and 15 others were taken hostage after a struggle on board.

a picture of a container ship on the horizon

The ship was sailing through the most dangerous sea in the world for piracy when it was attacked

Pirates attacked a Turkish cargo ship off the West African coast, killing a sailor and kidnapping 15 others, officials said Sunday.

The M/V Mozart, which sails under a Liberian flag, was traveling from the Nigerian city of Lagos to Cape Town, South Africa, when the attack took place.

The abducted crew members are reportedly from Turkey.

Turkey's Maritime Directorate said the man who was killed was an engineer from Azerbaijan. 

What happened?

The ship was attacked 185 kilometers (100 nautical miles) northwest of the island nation of Sao Tome and Principe in the Gulf of Guinea on Saturday morning.

Turkey's Maritime Directorate said the crew initially locked themselves in a safe area but the pirates forced entry after six hours. The engineer died during the struggle.

After taking most of the crew hostage on Saturday, the pirates left the ship in the Gulf of Guinea with three sailors aboard, Turkish state-run Anadolu news agency said.

Before they left, the pirates disabled most of the ship's systems, leaving only the navigation system for the remaining crew members to find their way to port, according to reports.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has twice spoken to the senior officer remaining on the ship, the Turkish presidency said in a tweet.

What happens now?

The vessel is currently heading to Port-Gentil in the Central African state of Gabon.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said "coordinated negotiations" were underway to secure the release of the abducted sailors.

"The pirates have yet to make any response," he said.

How common are pirate attacks?

According to data from the International Maritime Bureau, there were 195 pirate attacks on vessels last year — 33 more than in 2019.

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 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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kmm/nm (dpa, AP)