Six Russian sailors kidnapped off the coast of Benin Republic

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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.

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.

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

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

Similar incident happened in 2018 when an oil tanker with a crew of 22 Indian nationals was hijacked by pirates in the Gulf of Guinea. The crew members were released after five days as hostages, following a reported ransom payment.

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