ANKARA, Turkey (AP) – A group of pirates killed a sailor and kidnapped 15 in an attack on a Turkish ship off the west coast of Africa, Turkish authorities, who were working to free the crew, said Sunday. .
The M / V Mozart, flying the Liberian flag, was traveling from Lagos, Nigeria, to Cape Town, South Africa, when it was attacked on Saturday morning 100 nautical miles (185 kilometers) northwest of the island nation of Santo Tomé and Principe.RELATED
The crew initially locked themselves in a safe area, but after six hours the pirates gained access, the Turkish Maritime Directorate said. In the fight for control of the ship, one crew member was killed, identified as the Azerbaijani engineer Farman Ismayilov, the only non-Turkish crew member.
After removing most of the crew, the pirates left the ship in the Gulf of Guinea with three sailors on board, according to the state news agency Anadolu. The ship was heading to Port-Gentil, in Gabon.
According to reports, the pirates deactivated most of the ship’s systems, leaving only the navigation system for the remaining crew to reach port.
The Gulf of Guinea, off the coasts of Nigeria, Guinea, Togo, Benin and Cameroon, is the area with the highest risk of piracy in the world, according to the International Maritime Bureau.
Maritime security consultancy Dryad Global described the event as “an exceptional incident both for its safety and for the distance from the coast.” Boardings in West African waters grew to 18 last year from 13 in 2019, the London-based consultancy added.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said he spoke with the highest ranking crew member still on the ship, Furkan Yaren, noting that the morale and physical condition of the remaining seafarers were good.
“We continue coordinated negotiations for the release” of the kidnapped sailors, he said. “The pirates have yet to respond.”
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has spoken with Yaren twice, according to a tweet from the Turkish presidential office. The president ordered that the captive crew be recovered.
“The owners and operators of the M / V Mozart, which was approached at gunpoint in the Gulf of Guinea, have regretted confirming that one of its crew members was killed and others kidnapped,” the company Boden Maritime, based in In Estambul.
Cavusoglu, spoke with his Azerbaijani counterpart to offer his condolences, and said that the body of the deceased would be delivered once the Mozart reached port.
In July 2019, 10 Turkish sailors were kidnapped off the Nigerian coast. They were released less than a month later.