Fifteen Turkish sailors abducted from the vessel MV Mozart by pirates last month in the Gulf of Guinea have been freed in Nigeria and will return home, an executive of the shipping company Boden Denizcilik , said Friday, two weeks after the attackers made contact to discuss a ransom.
One sailor, a citizen of Azerbaijan, was killed in the Jan. 23 assault. Where crew, family members and security sources described as a sophisticated and well-orchestrated attack. The abductees were from Turkey.
Speaking to state-run TRT Haber television, Levent Karsan of the Istanbul-based Boden shipping company said all the sailors were in good health in Nigeria and would be transferred to Turkey in the coming days.
“It was not a political kidnapping. These kinds of kidnappings happen in that region, unfortunately, and they are mainly aimed at getting a ransom,” Karsan said. Talks to free the sailors have been handled by a Hamburg-based team, he added.
The Liberian-flagged container ship, the Mozart, was heading to Cape Town from Lagos when it was attacked 160 km (100 miles) off the island of Sao Tome, according to maritime reports. The pirates first contacted Boden on Jan. 28 to discuss ransom.
Karsan did not give details of the talks, but said he hoped the incident would prompt United Nations and International Maritime Organization officials to take action against piracy in the region.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu later said that a British company had taken over the negotiations, but did not give details. He also told TRT Haber that a team had been sent to countries in the region to try to prevent such incidents.
“We must learn a lesson from this and work together to make sure this doesn’t happen again,” Cavusoglu told TRT. (Reporting by Tuvan Gumrukcu and Ezgi Erkoyun; editing by Jonathan Spicer and Timothy Heritage)