ANKARA (Reuters) - Fifteen Turkish sailors kidnapped by pirates last month in the Gulf of Guinea have been freed in Nigeria and will head home, a shipping company executive said on Friday, two weeks after the attackers made contact to discuss a ransom.
One sailor, a citizen of Azerbaijan, was killed in the raid on Jan. 23 which crew, family members and security sources described as a sophisticated and well-orchestrated attack. Those kidnapped were from Turkey.
Speaking to state TV broadcaster TRT Haber, Levent Karsan from Istanbul-based Boden Shipping said the sailors were all in good health in Nigeria and would be brought to Turkey in the coming days.
“This wasn’t a political kidnapping. This kind of kidnapping happens in that region unfortunately and is completely aimed at getting ransom,” Karsan said. Talks to free the sailors had been handled by a team based in Hamburg, he added.
The Liberian-flagged container ship, the Mozart, was headed to Cape Town from Lagos when it was attacked 160 km (100 miles) off Sao Tome island, maritime reports showed. The pirates made first contact with Boden on Jan. 28 to discuss ransom.
Karsan did not share details of the talks but said he hoped the incident would prompt officials at the United Nations and International Maritime Organisation to take action against piracy in the region.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu later said that a British company had handled negotiations, but gave no details. He also told TRT Haber a team had been sent to countries in the region to discuss preventing such incidents.
“We must learn a lesson from this and work together to make sure this doesn’t happen again,” Cavusoglu said on TRT.
Reporting by Tuvan Gumrukcu and Ezgi Erkoyun; Editing by Jonathan Spicer and Timothy Heritage
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