Rabat - Two Moroccan merchant navy officers have been abducted by Nigerian pirates off the island of Principe in southeastern Nigeria in the Bonny Gulf. Government spokesman Mustapha El Khalfi said the Moroccan executive is “closely following” the case.
Rabat – Two Moroccan merchant navy officers have been abducted by Nigerian pirates off the island of Principe in southeastern Nigeria in the Bonny Gulf. Government spokesman Mustapha El Khalfi said the Moroccan executive is “closely following” the case.
According to the International Maritime Bureau Piracy Reporting Centre (IMB PRC), the vessel the officers were stationed on has been retrieved by the Nigerian Navy, which has begun an investigation into the incident.
During a press conference held at the end of the government council meeting, El Khalfi confirmed the kidnapping of the two Moroccan sailors. The minister said the kidnapping involved “a Panamanian boat flying the Congolese flag,” and denounced the “act of piracy.”
No further details were given, except that El Khalfi confirmed that the government is “closely following the situation concerning the security of our citizens.” The government spokesperson said that the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Moroccans residing abroad will have more details on the case.
According to World Maritime News, five crew members were kidnapped from a general cargo vessel identified as the Panama-flagged Oya 1, after it was boarded by armed pirates on July 30 while sailing around 15 nautical miles south west of Bonny Island, Nigeria.
Two of the five crew members are said to be Moroccan officers: Ahmed Janani, the Grimaldi Group’s commercial director, and Abdelkader Benhala.
The IMB PRC has confirmed the attack without identifying the vessel.
“The incident was reported to the Nigerian navy who responded and located the ship. It was reported that some crew members were missing,” the IMB PRC said.
The incident was reported to the Nigerian Navy, which checked the vessel and found that some crew members were in fact missing. The Nigerian authorities towed the vessel to a safe harbor for investigation.
The pirates, who have moved to an unknown destination after the abduction, have so far not made any public demands.
The vessel Oya1, built in 1986, is an Albanian, and sometimes Panamanian, freighter. It is operated by a Congolese company registered in Pointe-Noire, the economic capital of the Republic of Congo.