Turkish sailors kidnapped off Nigeria return to Turkey

Turkish sailors kidnapped off Nigeria describe death threats, forest captivity
2 min read
14 February, 2021
Turkish sailors kidnapped off Nigeria by pirates describe death threats and forest captivity following their release.
The captain described how he and his crew faced death threats [Getty]
The captain of the Turkish ship kidnapped by pirates last month in the Gulf of Guinea arrived back in Turkey on Sunday and described the ordeal as "tough".

Mustafa Kaya, captain of the ship 'Mozart', and 14 sailors were greeted by relatives as they arrived before dawn at Istanbul Airport Turkish, where Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and other officials were also waiting.

Kaya described how he and his crew faced death threats and were held in a forest during a three weeks captivity.

"We were in a forest. There were tough conditions. There were constantly armed men at our side," Kaya was cited as saying by the Demiroren news agency.

The Liberian-flagged M/V Mozart was sailing from Lagos, Nigeria, to Cape Town, South Africa, when it was attacked on 23 January about 100 nautical miles (185 kilometres) Northwest of the island nation of Sao Tome and Principe.

"We didn’t experience physical violence but they exerted psychological pressure during the negotiations. They said 'we will kill you if your company does not do what we want'," Kaya said.

At the time of their abduction, the crew had locked themselves in a secure room but the pirates forced their way in after a five-hour struggle.

"They were constantly opening fire, firing randomly inside. At that time one of our colleagues died. He was shot in the belly. We are very sad," he said.

The sailor who died was an Azerbaijani national.

Three other Turkish sailors who avoided being kidnapped but were wounded in the attack, returned to Turkey last month.

After arriving, fourth captain Furkan Yaren had told state-run Anadolu news agency he hoped the kidnapped sailors would rejoin their families soon, adding that he was wounded from a fall while trying to avoid capture.

The rest of the crew was finally taken by boat and released in a safe place, where they waited for two weeks after the attackers made contact to discuss a ransom.

Following their release, Levent Karsan from Istanbul-based Boden Shipping said that the sailors were all in good health and that it was not a political kidnapping, but solely aimed at getting a ransom, with talks handled by a team based in Hamburg.

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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