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No word from pirates who seized Turkish sailors off Nigeria: FM Çavuşoğlu

who kidnapped Turkish crew members on a cargo ship off the have not established any contact, Turkey's foreign minister said Monday. "The pirates have established contact with neither the families [of crew], nor with us, nor company officials," told reporters in Turkish parliament.

Agencies and A News MIDDLE EAST
Published January 25,2021

Pirates who seized 15 sailors when they stormed a Turkish-crewed container ship in the Gulf of Guinea two days ago have not yet made contact with authorities, Turkey's foreign minister said on Monday.

An Azeri sailor was killed when armed attackers boarded the vessel, which was headed to Cape Town from Lagos, and abducted 15 Turkish sailors.

"We have not yet received word from the pirates," Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu told reporters in Ankara.

Turkey was in contact with officials in Gabon, where he said the Liberian-flagged container ship Mozart had docked with its remaining crew, and with authorities in neighbouring countries.

The Turkish foreign minister said the body of an Azerbaijani crew member who died during the incident would be transported to Azerbaijan on a Turkish Airlines airplane.

He noted that the funeral had been conducted in Gabon according to Islamic rites.

Çavuşoğlu also thanked authorities in the African country for their close cooperation with Turkey on the issue.

Echoing comments by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Turkey's transport minister said the government was working to ensure the swift release of the sailors.

"We will rescue our citizens from the hands of these bandits and reunite them with their families as soon as possible," Adil Karaismailoğlu said.

The ship was attacked 160 km (100 miles) off Sao Tome island on Saturday, maritime reports showed.

Pirates in the Gulf, which borders more than a dozen countries, kidnapped 130 sailors in 22 incidents last year, accounting for all but five of those seized worldwide, according to an International Maritime Bureau report.

The attack on the Mozart could raise international pressure on Nigeria to do more to protect shippers, who have called for tougher action in recent weeks, analysts said.

The Liberian-flagged cargo ship Mozart anchored at Port-Gentil at 11 a.m. (0800GMT) on Sunday.