Five Polish sailors are being held by kidnappers after a cargo ship belonging to a Polish company was attacked off the Nigerian coast, an incident Poland says highlights the need to review safety procedures of vessels operating in the area.
Polish Foreign Minister Witold Waszczykowski told a news conference of Friday that kidnappers had made no demands so far, and that Poland was liaising with Nigerian authorities, but would not get involved directly unless asked to do so.
“This is a responsibility of the sovereign state of Nigeria,” Waszczykowski said.
No traces of blood were discovered on the ship, which operates under the Cyprus flag, he said. The kidnapped sailors included the captain and officers.
“The rest of the crew, 11 people, are still on the ship and they are safe… The ship suffered some damage,” Waszczykowski said.
The ship is currently anchored around 30 sea miles – roughly 56 kilometres – off the Nigerian coast, with the operator arranging for a new crew to take it back to port.
The area where the kidnapping took place was not traditionally frequented by pirates, Polish Maritime Minister Marek Grobarczyk said.
Grobarczyk said the safety procedures of all Polish companies operating in the area would now be reviewed to ensure sailors’ safety.