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10 Turkish sailors kidnapped in pirate attack off Nigeria

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Turkish cargo vessel Paksoy-1 (file photo)

Armed pirates have attacked a Turkish cargo vessel off the coast of Nigeria, taking nearly a dozen sailors, all Turkish nationals, hostage for ransom.

The Turkish shipping company Kadioglu Denizcilik, which operates the ship, said in a statement that the Turkish-flagged vessel Paksoy-1 was sailing without freight from Cameroon’s port city of Douala to Abidjan in Ivory Coast when the pirates boarded the ship in the Gulf of Guinea in the Atlantic Ocean.

“No injuries or loss of lives occurred according to initial information. Our efforts continue for the safe and sound release of all of our personnel,” the statement noted.

Numan Paksoy, operations manager at Kadioglu Denizcilik, told reporters that there were 18 people aboard the 8,900 deadweight-ton ship, and 10 among them were kidnapped.

“We contacted those who were not kidnapped and found out that all crew members hid when the assailants boarded the ship. All of them had to come out of hiding when the assailants found some and threatened to kill them if the others did not come out. The assailants then picked 10 sailors at random among all the crew members and let others go,” he added.

The ship has reportedly been brought to the territorial waters of neighboring Ghana. A ship from the Ghanaian Navy is said to be sailing close to the abandoned cargo vessel, and Ghanaian officials are trying to communicate with the pirates for the release of the personnel, including the captain and first mate.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a statement that it was in contact with Nigerian and Ghanaian authorities to secure the release of the kidnapped Turkish citizens.

Piracy and abductions for ransom are common in the Gulf of Guinea.

Last week, the International Maritime Bureau described the water body as the most dangerous area in the world for piracy. It said 73 percent of all sea kidnappings and 92% of hostage-takings took place in the Gulf of Guinea.

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