Three Russian sailors have been taken hostage by Nigerian pirates aboard a Greek vessel off the coast of Benin, a Russian Embassy in Nigeria official said Thursday.
The pirates instructed the Panama-flagged Saronic Breeze vessel to head to Nigeria, and abandoned ship 18 miles off the Port of Harcourt, a Russian Embassy in Benin official said earlier in the day.
The three Russian citizens held by the pirates are a captain, second engineer and a cook, the official said.
“The kidnapping of three Russian sailors by Nigerian pirates is confirmed. The stakeholders are taking all necessary measures for their early release,” Press-Attache Artyom Romanov told RIA Novosti. Romanov declined to provide further details “at this stage for the purpose of safeguarding the sailors’ lives and health.” Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Wednesday that Saronic Breeze with 18 Russians and two Ukrainian citizens on board was seized near Benin on November 29. Police in the West African nation was unable to confirm or deny the reports about the incident.