Contact made with pirates who kidnapped 15 Turkish sailors

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Pirates who kidnapped 15 Turkish crew members of a cargo ship off the West African coast, have made contact with the shipping company, Turkish media reports said Thursday.

All 15 sailors were “well, unhurt and being kept together,” according to a statement from the Istanbul-based Boden Maritime, carried by Turkey’s state-run news agency.

The company didn’t say whether a ransom demand was made, but declared that it would make no further statement in order to protect the “security and health” of the crew and their families.

The Liberian-flagged M/V Mozart was sailing from Lagos, Nigeria, to Cape Town, South Africa, when it was attacked on Jan. 23, about 100 nautical miles (185 kilometers) northwest of the island nation of Sao Tome and Principe. One crew member, an Azerbaijani national, died during the attack.

The Gulf of Guinea, off the coasts of Nigeria, Guinea, Togo, Benin and Cameroon, is the most dangerous sea in the world for piracy, according to the International Maritime Bureau.

In July 2019, 10 Turkish seamen were kidnapped off the coast of Nigeria. They were released less than a month later.

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