Turkey, Africa

After pirate attack, ship with Turkish crew at port in Gabon

Body of slain Azerbaijani crew member to be retrieved; Turkish foreign minister vows safe return of Turkish sailors

Fatma Esma Arslan   | 24.01.2021
After pirate attack, ship with Turkish crew at port in Gabon

DAKAR, Senegal

A cargo ship with a largely Turkish crew that was attacked off Nigeria on Saturday is now anchored off neighboring Gabon, and the body of a slain Azerbaijani sailor is due to be brought to shore, according to Turkish officials.

The Liberian-flagged cargo ship Mozart anchored at Port-Gentil at 11 a.m. (0800GMT), said Turkish Transport and Infrastructure Minister Adil Karaismailoglu on Twitter on Sunday.

In the Saturday pirate attack, out of 19 or 20 crew members, 15 were kidnapped and three remained with the pirates – both groups all apparently Turkish nationals – while one Azerbaijani crew member was killed. It is unclear how many surviving crew members may still be on the cargo ship.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Turkish Ambassador to Gabon Nilufer Erdem Kaygisiz said procedures for the transfer of the slain Azerbaijani crew member will be done quickly.

"First of all, we need to … get there, see the crew,” and then retrieve the body, she added.

En route from Lagos, Nigeria to Cape Town, South Africa, the Mozart was attacked in the Gulf of Guinea, 160 kilometers (100 miles) off the small island nation of Sao Tome.

Turkey working for sailors’ safe return

Speaking to news channel NTV, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Turkey has begun initiatives for the safe return of its citizens from the pirates.

“These thugs, pirates who kidnapped our citizens have not yet contacted us,” he explained.

He added: “There have been attacks on our ships and other countries' ships before. They call after a certain time and make their demands. But all kinds of preparation and work have been done.”

Cavusoglu also said he spoke to his Azerbaijani counterpart and told him the body of the slain sailor would be sent back home via Turkey.

“The necessary funeral procedures will be carried out,” he added.

*Writing by Merve Aydogan in Ankara

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