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Location of Russian sailors captured in Gulf of Guinea is unknown - embassy

Representatives for the vessel’s owner stated the kidnappers have not established contact yet

MOSCOW, January 6. /TASS/. The location of Russians captured by pirates in Benin’s territorial waters in the Gulf of Guinea is still unknown, the Russian Embassy in Benin wrote on its Facebook page on Sunday, quoting representatives for the vessel’s owner.

"Representatives for the company which is the vessel’s owner stated in a conversation with the Embassy’s employees that the kidnappers have not established contact yet and the location of the captured Russian sailors remains unknown," the embassy said in a statement.

Representatives for the diplomatic mission also reportedly visited the vessel and met with the crew’s members. "The diplomats talked to the crew, learnt the details of the incident (the attack was committed on a speedboat, there were from eight to 10 pirates, all of them spoke English), and also found that there are no injured or ill among the crew members," the report says. "The sailors said that they are maintaining mobile and internet communication with their relatives and friends and plan to stay on the vessel until the arrival to the destination port in Russia." First Secretary of the Russian Embassy in Cotonou Albert Dyabin told TASS that "it is the latest information on the sailors. There is no any other information on their fate currently."

Pirates attacked the Panama-flagged MSC Mandy container carrier, which was staying in Benin’s territorial waters, overnight into January 2. On Saturday, the Russian Embassy in Benin specified on Facebook that there were 24 people onboard, mainly Russians. According to the diplomatic missions, all the sailors taken hostage by the pirates, including the vessel’s captain, are Russian citizens.

On the evening of January 5, the MSC Mandy container carrier arrived from Nigeria to the port of Cotonou, and new crew members went on board the ship, including the captain, to replace the crew members who had been taken hostage. Police officers, investigators and representatives for Benin’s port authorities also arrived there to carry out the necessary investigative operations. Representatives for the vessel’s owner were also on board the ship. On the morning of January 6, the container carrier left Benin’s territorial waters.