Captain of a Portuguese-flagged cargo ship who was kidnapped along with seven other sailors by pirates off the coast of Benin last month, has been freed, Bulgaria’s foreign Ministry announced on May 25.
The Bulgarian captain of the container ship Tommi Ritscher, which was attacked at the port of Cotonou in the Gulf of Guinea on April 19, was already in an European country and would soon return to Bulgaria, the Ministry said in a statement.
The Ministry said it has been in close coordination with the ship’s owners but did not give other details. It’s unclear what whether the other seven sailors have been released.
The whereabouts of three Russian citizens from the crew of the vessel attacked in the Gulf of Guinea, close to Cameroon port of Douala on August 15, remain unknown, the Foreign Ministry announced. (Image above: illustration).
“Based on the incoming information, on August 15, near the port of Douala (the Republic of Cameroon), unknown perpetrators attacked a cargo vessel “Marmalaita” belonging to the Danish company Ultrabulk, navigating under the flag of Antigua and Barbuda. According to the recruiting agency Marlow Navigation Russia, located in St. Petersburg, the attackers kidnapped eight members of the crew, among them three citizens of the Russian Federation,” the ministry informed.
According to the Russian Embassy in Yaounde, Cameroonian officials and representatives of the ship-owner company are currently investigating the incident. Russian diplomats actively cooperate with the governmental bodies in Cameroon and ship-owners in order to ensure the release of Russian citizens, the ministry added.
On August 15 the AFP agency reported, citing a Cameroon’s Navy source, that unknown perpetrators had abducted sailors from a vessel near the port of Douala. According to the source, “the kidnappers are probably Nigerian pirates.”
All of the crew abducted by pirates from a container ship off the coast of Nigeria in October, including eight Polish nationals, are safe and will be reunited with their families, Poland Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
“We would like to thank the shipowner, its co-workers and advisers for their professional handling of this difficult matter. We are grateful also to the Nigerian authorities,” the statement said.
The culprits targeted the MV Pomerenia Sky, a container ship owned by Midocean (IOM) Ltd and headed for the Nigerian port of Onne, in October.
Abductions are common in Nigeria and the Gulf of Guinea. The Polish Foreign Ministry said it was the fifth abduction of Polish citizens there since 2013.
The EU’s and Cabo Verde meeting confirmed a common interest to strengthen and enhance their successful cooperation in the coming years, focusing in particular on issues like investment, growth, and jobs; migration and mobility, where both sides took stock of the progress made under their Mobility Partnership; or on ocean governance and the blue economy. The EU and Cabo Verde also agreed to pursue joint efforts regarding maritime security, in particular in the fight against drug trafficking, piracy, and against illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing in West Africa and the Gulf of Guinea, and close cooperation on the security of borders.
The Ministerial Meeting coincides with the visit of Cabo Verde’s President Jorge Carlos Fonseca to Brussels where he will meet Presidents Tusk, Juncker and Tajani. The visit of President Fonseca takes place in the context of the 10th anniversary of the EU-Cabo Verde Special Partnership.