Turkish sailors abducted by pirates return home from Nigeria

WION Web Team
Ankara, Turkey Published: Feb 14, 2021, 06:11 PM(IST)

(File photo) Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan Photograph:( Reuters )

Story highlights

The freed hostages were welcomed at Istanbul Airport by their families and Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu after 21 days in captivity

Fifteen Turkish sailors kidnapped by pirates last month in the Gulf of Guinea arrived back in Turkey on Sunday and the ship's captain described how they faced death threats and were held in a forest during their three-week ordeal.

The freed hostages were welcomed at Istanbul Airport by their families and Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu after 21 days in captivity.

"We were in a forest. There were tough conditions. There were constantly armed men at our side," Mustafa Kaya, captain of the ship "Mozart" from which the crew were abducted, was cited as saying by the Demiroren news agency.

Also read: Pirates kill one, kidnap 15 crew of Turkish ship off West Africa

The Liberian-flagged container ship was headed to Cape Town from Lagos when it was attacked on Jan. 23, 160 km (100 miles) off Sao Tome island, maritime reports showed. One Azeri sailor was killed in what the crew described as a sophisticated and well-orchestrated attack.

"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.

Kaya said that at the time of their abduction the crew had locked themselves in a secure room but that the pirates had 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 crew were held under armed guard in tough conditions in a forest, he said, before being released and flown back from Nigerian capital Abuja. 

The crew was finally taken by boat and released at a safe place specified by the company. Their release came two weeks after the attackers made contact to discuss a ransom.

After their release, Levent Karsan from Istanbul-based Boden Shipping had 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.

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