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Pirates kill one, kidnap 15 crew of Turkish ship off West Africa

Pirates attack Turkish ship off W. Africa; kill 1, kidnap 15

Pirates attacked a Turkish cargo ship off the West African coast, kidnapping 15 sailors and killing an Azerbaijani sailor.

Turkey’s Maritime Directorate said the crew initially locked themselves in a safe area but the pirates forced entry after six hours. During the struggle, one crew member aboard the M/V Mozart died.

Turkish media identified the victim as engineer Farman Ismayilov of Azerbaijan, the only non-Turkish crew member.

That left three crew members to sail the Liberian-flagged Mozart owned by a Turkish company.

The Liberian-flagged Mozart was sailing from Lagos, Nigeria, to Cape Town in South Africa when it was attacked 185 km northwest of the island nation of Sao Tome and Principe on Saturday morning.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has twice spoken to the senior officer remaining on the ship, Furkan Yaren, the Turkish presidency said in a tweet. It added that Erdogan issued orders for the recovery of the kidnapped crew.

Earlier, a voice from the Mozart — purportedly that of the new captain — had said on a recording posted on Twitter: “I do not know where I am heading. The pirates cut the cables, only the radar is working.”

Ten sailors who were taken hostage from a Turkish vessel off West Africa were released in August 2019.

Pirate attacks on ships worldwide jumped 20 percent last year driven by a record spate of kidnappings off West Africa, the International Maritime Bureau said last week.

A total of 195 incidents of piracy and armed robbery were reported, up from 162 in 2019.

Out of 135 sailors abducted globally last year, 130 were recorded in the Gulf of Guinea — the highest ever number of crew members kidnapped in the area stretching thousands of kilometres (miles) from Senegal to Angola.

In July 2019, ten Turkish seamen were kidnapped off the coast of Nigeria. They were released less than a month later.