Eight crew abducted from containership off Cotonou, Benin

Tommi Ritscher (Photo: MarineTraffic.com/Chris Esco)
Tommi Ritscher (Photo: MarineTraffic.com/Chris Esco)

A containership anchored in the Gulf of Guinea off Benin's Port of Cotonou was boarded by pirates, who afterward kidnapped eight of the vessel's crew, on Sunday, April 19.

The Portuguese-flagged Tommi Ritscher was anchored three kilometres off the coast when it was approached by an unidentified number of armed men on a speedboat at around 08:30 UTC on Sunday.

Upon realising the imminent danger, 11 of the containership's crew locked themselves up in the citadel. However, a further eight sailors were unable to seek refuge in that area of the ship as the pirates went aboard.

Vessels from the Portuguese and Benin Navies as well as a small boat carrying Nigerian soldiers later sailed to the area in response to the attack.

Despite the presence of the responding security forces, the speedboat was able to flee the scene with the pirates and the eight abducted crew on board.

The security forces subsequently boarded Tommi Ritscher, finding only the 11 crew who had sought refuge in the citadel.

Negotiations with the pirates are ongoing to ensure the safe release of the kidnapped sailors.

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Baird Maritime / Work Boat World