Turkey Confirms Release of 15 kidnapped Sailors Off Nigeria’s Shoreline

Turkey on Friday announced the release of 15 sailors kidnapped on a cargo ship off the coast of Nigeria in January.

Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said the Mozart’s crew were all in good health and would fly back to Turkey from the Nigerian capital Abuja within days.

“We are going to repatriate our compatriots,” Cavusoglu was quoted as saying by the Anadolu state news agency.

“They are in good health,” he said without providing details about the crew’s release.

The Mozart had been en route from Lagos to Cape Town in South Africa when it was boarded on January 23.

The unidentified armed men killed an Azerbaijani sailor and wounded several of the Liberian-flagged vessel’s crew.

The ship then sailed on to Gabon before contact was officially lost.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s office said the Turkish leader had spoken to the ship’s acting captain shortly after the attack to make sure the remaining crew were safe.

The head of the shipping company operating the Mozart told Turkish television that the crew would fly home after undergoing health check-ups in Nigeria.

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 month.

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 kilometers (miles) from Senegal to Angola.


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