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Pirates Take Russian, Ukrainian, Bulgarian Hostages Off West Africa Coast

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

Pirates have attacked a Portugal-flagged container ship off the coast of Benin and kidnapped eight crew members, including three Russians, one Ukrainian, and the Bulgarian captain.

Shipping firm Transeste said pirates boarded the Tommi Ritscher vessel on April 19 off the coast of the West African country.

Eleven crew members were able to hide in the ship’s citadel and were later freed in a joint Benin Navy and Nigerian Special Forces operation.

"Regrettably, eight crew members remain missing and are now believed to have been kidnapped by the pirates," the Hamburg-based firm said on April 21.

The Russian Embassy in Benin and Togo confirmed that three Russian citizens were among the hostages.

Bulgaria's Foreign Ministry said the pirates also captured the Bulgarian captain of the ship. Ukraine said one of its citizens was kidnapped.

The Gulf of Guinea is a center of global pirate attacks, looting, and kidnapping for ransom.

Based on reporting by AFP, TASS, and Reuters