2019 January 18
The Russian sailors who were captured by pirates in the Gulf of Guinea are alive, a coordinator of the International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF) in Russia, Sergey Fishov, told Sputnik on Thursday, adding that the kidnappers demanded a ransom, and negotiations were ongoing.
On the early hours of January 2, pirates attacked container ship MSC Mandy off Benin's southern coast as it was sailing in the Gulf of Guinea.
They looted the ship and took the captain, his chief mate, and six Russian sailors captive. In total, there were 23 Russians and a Ukrainian citizen on board. The ship then docked at the port city of Cotonou, Benin's largest city. A spokesperson for container ship operator MSC told Sputnik that shipowners intended to hire middlemen to negotiate with pirates.
"They demanded a ransom, it was clear. Now they are deciding on the place where exchange of the people for money can take place.
There is no any information [about the location of kidnapped Russian sailors] yet. Most likely, they are in the jungle," Fishov said.
He did not specify when the next contact with the kidnappers is expected. He also did not specify the sum of money demanded by the kidnappers.
"These are trades, the mediators will in any case bring down the price, they will come to a compromise in the end, based on common practice," he concluded.
The Russian Embassy in Nigeria is cooperating with the Nigerian government in order to track down the location of the captives.
The Russian Embassy in Benin has communicated with those crew members who have not been taken captive to learn the details of the assault.
Benin authorities have opened a criminal case in connection with the incident.