Georgia on Wednesday announced the release of two sailors kidnapped in early May by pirates off the coast of Gabon, close to a Gabonese commercial port.
“The two Georgian sailors kidnapped in Gabon were released on May 21 thanks to the efforts of the Georgian foreign ministry, the Georgian embassy in South Africa, and the Georgian shipping agency,” said Mari Nartchemashvili, a diplomatic spokeswoman for Georgia,
“The sailors were abducted on 2 May when pirates attacked their ship, the Grebe Bulker, which was docked in Gabonese territorial waters,” she explained.
The bulk carrier, measuring 190 metres in length, is owned by the US shipping company Eagle Bulk Shipping Inc. but flies the Marshall Islands flag. It was targeted while anchored less than eight kilometres off the Gabonese commercial port of Owendo, located on the outskirts of the capital, Libreville, according to an anonymous judicial source in Gabon .
The source revealed that the ship’s captain, a Russian national, along with the second and third officers, both Georgians, were abducted by “unknown individuals.”
The freed sailors are said to be in “satisfactory condition,” stated Nartchemashvili, without providing further details regarding their release or the fate of the Russian captain.
This incident marks one of the closest attacks by pirates to the coast and a major Gabonese city.
The Gulf of Guinea, particularly off the coasts of Nigeria, Cameroon, Gabon, and Equatorial Guinea, is known for frequent pirate attacks, where hostages are often taken to Nigeria and subsequently released, sometimes after the payment of ransom.
In January, the International Maritime Bureau (IMB), headquartered in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, announced that global piracy in 2022 had reached its lowest level since 1992. The waters of the Gulf of Guinea, previously considered the epicentre of global maritime piracy over the past decade, also witnessed a decline in such attacks in 2022.
However, since the beginning of this year, the number of these incidents appears to be on the rise once again, with at least two recorded in just over a month and several others reported.
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