Moscow: Six crew members of the MSC Mandy vessel, holding Russian citizenship, were kidnapped by sea pirates off Benin coast, the Russian Embassy in Benin said in a statement on Saturday.
“The attackers have taken six people, including the captain of the vessel, as hostages, and have escaped. All the kidnapped people are Russian citizens,” the embassy posted on Facebook.
The Russian Embassy in Nigeria, in turn, said it was cooperating with local authorities to rescue the abducted crew members. The rest of the vessel’s crew are not in danger, the embassy added.
The chairman of the Russian Investigative Committee, Alexander Bastrykin, has tasked the main directorate of the committee to check whether the information on Russian sailors’ kidnapping was true, Svetlana Petrenko, the official spokesperson for the committee, said.
“The chairman of the Russian Investigative Committee, Alexander Bastrykin, has tasked the Central Investigation Department of the Russian Investigative Committee to organize an investigative check of media information on kidnapping of crew members of the MSC Mandy vessel under Panamanian flag,” she said.
Bastrykin has also asked the Investigative Committee’s international department to cooperate with the Russian Foreign Ministry in order to establish all the facts related to the incident as soon as possible, Petrenko added.
Meanwhile, the Russian State Duma’s international committee is going to discuss the situation at its session, Anton Morozov, a member of the committee, told Sputnik.
“I think we will discuss it as soon as the State Duma starts working, we will certainly discuss it with the international affairs committee, as we will not stay on the sidelines,” Morozov said.
The parliamentarian expressed his belief that the Russian Foreign Ministry would do everything possible to ensure the abducted crew members’ rescue.
“I think there will certainly be a note of protest, and I hope that everyone will come back safe and sound,” he said.
On Wednesday night, pirates kidnapped six crew members of the MSC Mandy container ship as it was sailing in the Gulf of Guinea. While the data of the rescue center of the Russian Federal Agency of Maritime and River Transportation showed that there were 24 crew members on board, with all of them being Russians except one Ukrainian national, the Russian Embassy in Benin said that there were 26 people on board, including 20 Russian citizens, two Georgian citizens, and four Ukrainian citizens.
However, the Georgian Sea Transport Agency told Sputnik that there were no Georgian citizens on board.