Polish crew abducted from cargo ship

Armed pirates have kidnapped five Polish crew members from a Cyprus-flagged Polish operated cargo ship off the coast of Nigeria.

In one of the deadliest shipping lanes in the world, the sixteen crew members of the vessel, Szafir, found themselves in a scary situation. Pirates in speedboats pulled alongside the vessel whilst it was underway. Eleven of the crew managed to retreat and secure themselves in the engine room upon the pirates boarding the ship.  The armed men then looted the vessel, including the crew’s quarters, before kidnapping the remaining five members, which also included the captain of the vessel.

As well as the Captain, the kidnapped sailors also included other officers, rendering the Szafir impossible to navigate.

Polish Foreign Minister Witold Waszczykowski said “The rest of the crew, 11 people, are still on the ship and they are safe. The ship suffered some damage.”

The minister has now released a statement regarding the kidnapped crew “Today the abducted seamen contacted their families in Poland by phone to tell them that they are safe and sound,” the ministry said in a statement.

The waters off the coast of West Africa have been identified by the International Maritime Bureau as one of the major piracy hot spots around the world, recording 41 incidents in 2014, with 18 in Nigerian waters and mainly targeting vessels working in the oil industry.

Further details will follow on the abducted crews welfare.

Szafir’s details:

Built:       1992
Size:       113 x 19 m
Draught: 8.54 m
General cargo ship