Fifteen Turkish sailors kidnapped by pirates last month in the Gulf of Guinea were freed in Nigeria late last week and will head home.
One sailor, a citizen of Azerbaijan, was killed in the raid on January 23 on the the Liberian-flagged containership, Mozart, 160 km off Sao Tome island.
The Turkish owner, Boden Shipping, is thought to have paid a ransom to secure the seafarers’ freedom.
The International Chamber of Commerce’s International Maritime Bureau (IMB)’s annual piracy report recorded an increase of piracy and armed robbery incidents in 2020 with the Gulf of Guinea the clear hotspot as kidnappings off West Africa approach Somalia levels from a decade ago.
“The latest statistics confirm the increased capabilities of pirates in the Gulf of Guinea with more and more attacks taking place further from the coast. This is a worrying trend that can only be resolved through increased information exchange and coordination between vessels reporting and response agencies in the Gulf of Guinea region. Despite prompt action by navies in the region, there remains an urgent need to address this crime, which continues to have a direct impact on the safety and security of innocent seafarers,” Michael Howlett, director of the International Maritime Bureau, said last month.