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Pirates attack a Turkish ship off West Africa; kill 1, kidnap 15

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) – Armed pirates attacked a Turkish cargo ship off the West African coast, abducted 15 sailors and killed one, officials said Sunday as Turkey tried to recapture a captured crew.

A Liberian-flagged M / V Mozart was sailing from Lagos, Nigeria, to Cape Town, South Africa, when it was attacked on Saturday morning 100 nautical miles (185 kilometers) northwest of the island nation of Sao Tome and Principe.

The Turkish Maritime Directorate said the crew was initially locked in a safe zone, but the pirates were forced to enter after six o’clock. During the fight, one crew member on board was killed. He identified the victim as engineer Farman Ismailov of Azerbaijan, the only non-Turkish crew member.

Following the abduction of most of the crew, the pirates left the ship in the Gulf of Guinea with three sailors on board, the state agency Anadolu reported. The pirates reportedly deactivated most of the ship̵

7;s systems, leaving only the navigation system for the rest of the crew to find their way to the port of Gabon.

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

The Maritime Security Advisory Service Dryad Global described the attack as “an exceptional incident both in terms of severity and remoteness from shore”. Last year, ascents in West African waters rose to 18 from 13 in 2019, the London-based company added.

Mevlüt вуavuşoğlu, Turkey’s foreign minister, said he had talked to Mozart’s senior officer, Furkan Jaren, and that the sailors’ morale and physical condition were good.

“We are continuing coordinated negotiations for the release” of the abducted sailors, he said. The pirates have not yet responded.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has spoken to Yaren twice, his office tweeted. It added that Erdogan had issued orders to restore the abducted crew.

“The owners and operators of M / V Mozart, which was abducted at gunpoint in the Gulf of Guinea, have unfortunately confirmed that one of its crew has been killed and others abducted,” said Istanbul-based Boden Maritime.

Among the captives is the ship’s captain, Mustafa Kaya, 41. His brother Seyit from Istanbul said the sailors’ families had been called by Erdogan.

“We hope to see them free soon, unharmed,” he said. “Everyone is trying. We pray for our brothers. ”

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

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