Kidnapped Polish sailors “safe and sound”

The five kidnapped sailors of the Polish cargo ship Szafir have contacted their families and are reported to be “safe and sound”, the Polish Foreign Affairs Ministry said yesterday in an update.

“Today, the kidnapped sailors have contacted their families in Poland by phone and said they were safe and sound. To protect the sailors’ lives, the MFA refrains from providing any further details,” the Ministry said.

The five crewmembers, including the captain of the Cyprus-flagged MV Szafir were kidnapped on Friday, November 27th off Nigeria, when the ship was boarded by a group of armed men approximately seven nautical miles east of Brass at about 01:49 hours local time.

The remaining 11 crewmembers are safe and on board the Szafir, which was escorted by Nigerian Navy to Onne port.

“For the sake of security of our citizens, the MFA and the Polish Embassy in Abuja are in constant contact with the Nigerian authorities, the ship owner, and the sailors’ families,” the Ministry added.

As informed, an emergency task force is operating at the MFA headquarters since Friday, which coordinates further actions.

The vessel, which is owned by Voltaire Shipping Company and operated by Euroafrica Services Nigeria Limited, was en route to Onne port from Antwerp when it was attacked.

The Nigerian Navy and other security agencies have launched a search and rescue operation for the kidnapped crew of the Polish cargo ship.

Meanwhile, Acting Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Haruna Jauro has directed that the abducted captain and four crewmembers of the ship be rescued.

This is contained in a statement issued by Hajia Lami Tumaka Head of Public Relations Department in NIMASA and made available to newsmen over the weekend in Lagos.

The statement said that Jauro had ordered full scale investigation into the abduction.

It said that the 11 other crewmembers were left on the vessel after their colleagues were abducted.

According to the statement, “The vessel MV SZAFIR operating under Cyprus flag was reportedly attacked on Friday, November 27, approximately seven nautical miles East of Brass at about 01.49 hours local time.

“Registered with IMO No.9004504, the vessel, owned by Voltaire Shipping Company and operated by Euro-Africa Services Nigeria Ltd. had a total of 16 crew members, was enroute Onne Port from Antwerp.

“The vessel which has been rescued by NIMASA is currently sailing to Onne port under the Nigerian Navy escort for protection and further investigation.”

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