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Pirates seize Russian crew from boat off coast of Benin

In only the latest in a string of violent attacks, seven Russian nationals have been kidnapped by pirates operating in the Gulf of Guinea

Seven Russians from among a 13-member crew of the sea vessel the Curaçao Trader have been kidnapped by pirates in the Gulf of Guinea.

The sailors on the Curaçao Trader were abducted by the pirates roughly 210 nautical miles off the coast of Benin on Friday 17 July, the Russian Embassy in Nigeria has said.

Speaking for Russia

A spokesperson for the Russian Foreign Ministry, Maria Zakharova, said that Russia was making every effort to find and free its kidnapped nationals.

“The Russian embassies in Abuja and Cotonou are constantly in contact with relevant Nigerian and Beninese agencies as well as representatives of the ship owner company,” Zakharova said. “No effort is being spared to locate the kidnapped Russians and release them.

“[The kidnappers] are yet to put forward any demands. On 19 July, the ship anchored near the port of Cotonou,” she said.

The ship operator, Alison Management Corporation, also pledged that “no effort shall be spared” to rescue the captured crew members.

Brigands in the Bight of Benin

A report by Russia’s TASS News Agency says the attack on Friday was carried out by eight armed individuals.

The Gulf of Guinea in Africa, which stretches from Angola in the south to Senegal in the north-west, has become a notorious site for activity by pirates.

TASS reports that 45% of all global pirate attacks in the first quarter of 2020 took place there.

Players in the shipping industry have been cautioned in recent times about the increasing number of incidents involving piracy and kidnapping in the Gulf of Guinea, particularly around the coast of Nigeria.

Nine Nigerian nationals were kidnapped early this month when pirates attacked a Norwegian-registered production vessel in the Okwori oilfield in Nigerian waters. The vessel was working for a Chinese-owned oil film.

Nana Abena Boakye-Boateng

Source
Al-Ahram CGTN
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