Turkish sailor among 19 abducted off Nigerian coast

Turkish sailor among 19 abducted off Nigerian coast

Turkish sailor among 19 abducted off Nigerian coast

Nineteen crew members, including a Turkish sailor, were attacked by pirates off the coast of Nigeria, according to a source who asked not be named due to restrictions on speaking to the media, state-run Anadolu Agency reported on Dec. 5.

The Hong Kong-flagged crude oil vessel had 18 Indian nationals onboard when it was seized off Bonny island late on Dec. 4.

The identity and condition of the Turkish sailor have not been revealed yet.

Reuters on Dec. 5 reporter that pirates kidnapped 19 crew members from a crude oil tanker off Nigeria in an area where acts of piracy are on the rise, an official with the ship's operator has said.

The loaded vessel, the Nave Constellation, was attacked 77 nautical miles off Bonny Island on Dec. 4 and 18 Indians and one Turk from the crew were seized, the official said.

Seven other crew members remain on board the vessel. Neither the vessel nor the cargo were damaged, the official said.

The shipping industry has warned in recent months about the increasing dangers faced by seafarers in the Gulf of Guinea, particularly around Nigeria, including kidnappings by pirates.

The International Maritime Bureau said in October the Gulf of Guinea accounted for more than four fifths of crew kidnappings globally.
Maritime security officials say that over the past year there has been a growing shift by pirate gangs in the Gulf of Guinea and especially Nigeria towards kidnapping crews rather than stealing cargoes, to try to extort ransom from ship owners.

The head of Nigeria's Maritime Administration and Safety Agency Dakuku Peterside, said authorities were working to ensure the crew are secured and those abducted, released. He said the vessel owners had operated for 10 days in Nigerian waters without contacting harbour masters or Nigerian authorities.

The Hong Kong-flagged supertanker, capable of carrying up to 2 million barrels of oil, is operated by Greek shipping company Navios Tankers Management.

"We are doing everything necessary to make sure that the 19 crew members will return safe," the official at Navios said, adding that their families have been informed.

An Indian government source said its mission in Nigeria had taken up the matter of the kidnappings with the Nigerian government and security agencies.

The vessel was carrying crude for Indian refiner Hindustan Petroleum Corp, a source at the company said.


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