The 15 sailors who were kidnapped off the Gulf of Guinea on Saturday are in good health, according to the Turkish shipping company.
The pirates who kidnapped 15 sailors from a Turkish-manned container ship in the Gulf of Guinea on Saturday have made their first contact with the shipping company to discuss a ransom, Turkish state media reported on Thursday.
“Communication has been established with the crew of the Mozart container ship,” said Istanbul-based state news agency Anadolu, which provides technical management services for the ship.
“Information has been obtained that the 15 crew members are in good health, not injured and together,” he said.
The company did not say whether a ransom demand was made, but said it would not make any further statements to protect “the safety and health” of the crew and their families.
A sailor, an Azerbaijani citizen, was killed in the raid while those kidnapped are from Turkey, according to the respective governments and a crew list consulted by Reuters news agency.
The body of the slain sailor, Farman Ismayilov, was recovered when the ship he had served on docked in neighboring Gabon following the attack. It was flown from Libreville, the Gabonese capital, to Istanbul, then to the Azerbaijani capital Baku by Turkish Airlines.
Testimonies from the crew, family members and security sources on Saturday described a sophisticated and well-orchestrated attack in which armed pirates boarded the ship and violated its protective citadel, possibly with explosives.
The Liberian-flagged vessel Mozart was on its way to Cape Town from Lagos when it was attacked on Saturday 160 kilometers (100 miles) off the island of Sao Tome, according to maritime reports.
After the attack, Mozart dropped anchor in Port-Gentil, Gabon, on Sunday, but with only three of his surviving crew on board.
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 three Turkish crew members are in good condition, said the Turkish embassy in the Gabonese capital, Libreville.
Turkey is doing everything possible to recover the 15 kidnapped sailors, although the pirates have not made any contact with those responsible, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Monday.
The Gulf of Guinea – off the coasts of Nigeria, Guinea, Togo, Benin and Cameroon – is the most dangerous sea in the world due to piracy, according to the International Maritime Bureau.
In July 2019, 10 Turkish sailors were kidnapped off the Nigerian coast. They were released less than a month later.