Pirates in the Gulf of Guinea off the coast of Nigeria have reportedly kidnapped 15 crew and killed one from container ship Mozart
The sailor who was killed was reported to be an Azerbaijani national. The 15 kidnapped crew are reported to be Turkish.
Pirates boarded the vessel in the early morning hours of 23 January, according to Maritime Domain Awareness Trade - Gulf of Guinea (MDAT-GOG) service, a combined effort between the Royal Navy (UKMTO) and the French Navy (MICA-Center) to report on incidents in the region.
Maritime security firm Dryad Global placed the attack approximately 161 km off the island of Sao Tome during the Liberia-flagged vessel’s transit from Lagos, Nigeria, to Cape Town, South Africa.
"This incident is an exceptional incident for both its severity and distance from shore," Dryad Global’s analysis said, pointing out the attack occurred further offshore than any incident recorded in West African waters.
Dryad Global cited reports saying pirates had breached the vessel’s citadel to reach the crew.
The incident is the fifth in the region in 2021, less than a month into the new year.
Three crewmembers were reportedly left on board, injured, and steered the vessel into Gabonese waters, where the Gabonese Government said they offered assistance.
The director-general of The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Bashir Jamoh tweeted "I mourn the recent loss of an Azerbaijani sailor on #MVMozart and condemn the kidnap of 15 Turkish crew by pirates in the Gulf of Guinea. [NIMSA] is monitoring the sad development and co-ordinating with stakeholders for a safe return of the seafarers".
And IMO secretary-general Kitack Lim also weighed in on the incident, expressing concern.
"I am deeply concerned by reports of the criminal attack on the container ship Mozart, which has left one seafarer dead. Fifteen crew are reported kidnapped. I express my deepest sympathies to the families. I am monitoring developments, and wish that this matter be resolved quickly. This is an extremely serious attack on merchant shipping. IMO is committed to enhancing the interactions with the relevant stakeholders including the littoral states to prevent such further incidents occurring," the secretary general’s statement said.
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