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A Nigerian Navy ship patrols the sea off the coast of Cotonou, Benin. Pirates abducted six crew members from a Turkish ship on Sunday, the Nigerian Navy has said.


Nigerian pirates abducted a crew of six from a Turkish cargo ship off the oil-rich Niger Delta, the Nigerian Navy has said.

The merchant tanker was traveling through the Niger Delta region on Sunday night when the pirates attacked the vessel, which was used for crude oil operations, Nigerian Navy spokesman Chris Ezekobe told AFP. Ezekobe said that the captain, chief officer and chief engineer were among the abducted and that the navy was working with Interpol and Nigerian intelligence agencies to locate the crew.

The ship is reported to be the M/T Puli and owned by Istanbul-based Kaptanoglu Shipping. A spokesman for Kaptanoglu told Newsweek on Tuesday that there had been “no further developments” in efforts to retrieve the crew and that the company was “doing its utmost to get them back.”

Piracy in Nigeria has seen a sharp rise since President Muhammadu Buhari took office in May 2015. In the first two months of 2016, there were 24 cases of “piracy and armed robbery at sea,” the Control Risks consultancy said at a February press conference in Lagos. This equates to double the number of attacks in the final two months of 2015.

The Niger Delta region was plagued by militancy during the mid-2000s, with groups such as the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) taking up arms and kidnapping workers at oil facilities. An amnesty program that saw the government provide ex-militants with monthly subsidies is due to end later in 2016, prompting suggestions that some of the recipients could turn to piracy.

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