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Pirates Seize Six Russian Hostages Off West Africa


Piracy affects a number of countries in West Africa and has become an issue of global concern. (illustrative photo)

Pirates seized a cargo ship off the coast of the West African country of Benin, robbing crew members and sailors and abducting six hostages before fleeing, Russia’s Interfax and marine news websites report.

Interfax said on January 5 that the assault took place in the early hours of January 2 and that Russian diplomats were informed of the incident by Benin’s navy.

The report said 26 people were aboard the ship carrying Russians, Ukrainians, and Georgians, although the numbers varied slightly in differing reports.

"As we've been told by the chief of staff of Benin's navy, a ship was seized overnight on January 1-2 near Benin's territorial waters," the Russian state-run TASS news agency quoted an official from Moscow's embassy in the African country as saying.

"There were 26 people on board: two Georgians, four Ukrainians, and 20 Russians. Six people were kidnapped," the official added.

The Russian Embassy in Benin later said all six kidnapped sailors were Russian nationals, TASS reported.

The ship is now in Nigerian territorial waters, TASS said.

The Maritime Bulletin reported, without citing sources, that seven to nine pirates boarded the MSC Mandy cargo ship armed with AK-47 rifles and machetes.

It said the ship was traveling from Lome, Togo, to Lagos when attacked.

MarineTraffic.com lists the 37,000-ton ship as being Panama-flagged and says it was built in 1993.

The website also reported the attack, citing Ambrey Intelligence, a marine security firm.

Based on reporting by Interfax, TASS, and The Maritime Bulletin
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