Whereabouts of 6 sailors abducted off Cotonou still unknown

Whereabouts of 6 sailors abducted off Cotonou still unknown

MSC Mandy. PHOTO CREDIT: VesselFinder

The whereabouts of six Russian sailors abducted by pirates off the coast of Cotonou, Benin Republic, are still unknown, Russian officials have said.

The ship was traveling from Lome, Togo, to Lagos, Nigeria, when it was attacked.

After the incident, the vessel continued on to Nigeria before returning on January 5 to Benin’s main port, according to officials.

“The kidnappers have not established contact yet, and the location of the captured Russian sailors remains unknown,” the Russian Embassy in Benin Republic said in a statement on Sunday.

Pirates seized the Panamanian-flagged MSC Mandy container ship in Benin’s territorial waters early on January 2, robbing crew members and sailors and abducting six of the crew members before fleeing.

Officials have said 24 to 26 people were aboard the ship made of 20 Russians, four Ukrainians, and two Georgians.

Six of them, later identified as Russians, were taken hostage. Those abducted were the captain, his senior aide, a third aide, the boatswain, a fitter-welder, and the cook.

Russian state-run TASS news agency said diplomatic officers had visited the ship and met with crew members in Cotonou port, and several replacement sailors, including a captain, were brought aboard.

“Diplomats spoke to the crew, learned the details of the incident, and found that none of the crew members was injured,” First Secretary of the Russian Embassy in Cotonou, Albert Dyabin, said.

He added that crew members said the incident occurred when eight to 10 attackers, all speaking English, arrived on a speedboat.