Pirates off Nigeria’s coast kidnapped 15 sailors from a Turkish container ship on Saturday, in a violent attack farther from shore than usual.
The Liberian-flagged Mozart ship was headed to Cape Town from Lagos when it was attacked in the Gulf of Guinea, 160 kilometres off Sao Tome island on Saturday, maritime reports showed.
Reports from other crew members and their family say that the attack was well- orchestrated. According to them, armed pirates boarded the ship and breached its protective citadel, possibly with explosives.
Ambrey, a security company, said four armed men boarded the Mozart and entered the citadel (where the crew are advised to hide in any attack) from a deck atop the cabin.
According to the respective governments and a crew list seen, one sailor, an Azerbaijani citizen, was killed in the raid, while those kidnapped are from Turkey.
Three sailors remain on the Mozart ship, which was receiving assistance in Gabonese waters off central Africa by Sunday evening.
According to state-run news agency Anadolu, the ship’s fourth captain, Furkan Yaren, had been “cruising blindly” toward Gabon with damage to the ship’s controls and only the radar working. The pirates beat crew members and left him with an injured leg while another still aboard the ship had shrapnel wounds, Yaren said.
Turkish media cited Istanbul-based ship owner Boden company as saying the vessel’s owners and operators were abducted at gunpoint.
Analysts have said that the Mozart attack could raise international pressure on Nigeria to do more to protect shippers, which have called for tougher action in recent weeks.
CEO of the UK-based EOS Risk Group, David Johnson said that “The fact that someone died, the number of people taken and the apparent use of explosives to breach the ship’s citadel means it is a potential game-changer”.
“It’s clearly quite sophisticated, and if pirates have decided to use munitions it’s a big move,” he said. There is “no doubt” those kidnapped will be taken back to Nigeria’s Delta, and Turkey will have little hope stopping it, he added.
Turkey’s foreign ministry said the pirates had not made any contact with Ankara.