20 more Indian sailors captured by pirates in Africa

20 more Indian sailors captured by pirates in Africa

“We are concerned by the kidnapping of 20 Indian crew members (as reported by the shipping agency) from the vessel MT Duke in the high seas off the western coast of Africa,” Raveesh Kumar, spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs, said in New Delhi.

India has conveyed its concern to Nigeria and other countries in Western Africa as 20 more of its citizens have been abducted by pirates in the region on Sunday.

With the latest abduction of sailors from the chemical tanker MT Duke; the number of Indian citizens, whom pirates took hostage from vessels sailing in the region rose to 38.

Earlier, a gang of pirates kidnapped 18 Indian sailors from Hong Kong-flagged Very Large Crude Carrier (VLCC), Nave Constellation, after boarding it off the coast of Nigeria late on December 3. They are yet to be released.

The pirates targeted MT Duke, a Marshall Islands-flagged chemical tanker owned by Union Maritime headquartered in London, on Sunday, when it was sailing in Gulf of Guinea on its way from Luanda (Angola) to Lome (Togo).

The pirates took 20 Indian sailors hostage, leaving only a Nigerian member of the crew onboard the vessel.

“We are concerned by the kidnapping of 20 Indian crew members (as reported by the shipping agency) from the vessel MT Duke in the high seas off the western coast of Africa,” Raveesh Kumar, spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs, said in New Delhi.

He noted that it was the third such incident in which citizens of India had been abducted by pirates in the region in 2019. The High Commission of India in Abuja, the capital of Nigeria, had taken it up with the authorities of Nigeria and the neighbouring countries.

“The safety of hostages is paramount and we continue to engage with Nigerian authorities and other stakeholders closely on the recent incidents,” said Kumar.

Earlier, five Indian sailors were kidnapped by pirates from the same region in April. They were finally released in June.

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