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15 sailors kidnapped off Nigeria’s coast freed – Turkey

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

The crew were kidnapped onboard the vessel last month.

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.

The Gulf of Guinea, stretching thousands of kilometres (miles) from Senegal to Angola, has witnessed rising attacks by pirates. Out of 135 sailors abducted globally last year, 130 were recorded in the Gulf of Guinea.

The Turkish Anadolu State news agency quoted Cavusoglu as saying that “we are going to repatriate our compatriots. They are in good health.”

The Mozart had been en route from the Nigeria’s economic capital 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 checkups 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.

First published by AFP

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