Pirates kidnap 12 crew members from Swiss merchant vessel in Nigerian waters

The Lagos Port Complex in Lagos, Nigeria is seen on March 16, 2016.
The Lagos Port Complex in Lagos, Nigeria is seen on March 16, 2016. Frédéric Soltan/Corbis via Getty Images

Pirates kidnapped 12 members of a Swiss merchant vessel crew in Nigerian waters on Saturday morning, the ship’s operator said in a statement.

The MV Glarus was en route from the Nigerian capital of Lagos to the southeastern city of Port Harcourt carrying a parcel of bulk wheat when it came under attack by the pirate gang, Massoel Shipping told Global News in a statement.

“It is understood the pirate gang boarded the Glarus by means of long ladders and cut the razor wire on deck to gain access to the vessel and eventually the bridge,” the Swiss shipping giant said.

The pirates then destroyed the ship’s communications equipment before making off with 12 of the 19 crew members.

READ MORE: Somali pirates suspected of hijacking bulk carrier ship

The ship is currently being held at Bonny Island, around 45 nautical miles northeast of where the invasion occurred.

Story continues below advertisement

“The safety and well-being of those taken hostage is the first and absolute priority of Massoel Shipping,” the company said, adding that it’s working with authorities to locate and secure the release of the hostages.

Switzerland’s foreign ministry said it had learned from the company that none of the crew members are Swiss nationals.

Nigeria’s navy and maritime police said they were unaware of the kidnapping and would investigate.

Pirate attacks have been occurring with increasing frequency in Nigerian waters, according to the International Chamber of Commerce’s International Maritime Bureau (IMB).

The Gulf of Guinea — where the MV Glarus was attacked — accounted for 29 pirate incidents in the first quarter of 2018, more than 40 per cent of the global total.

— With files from Reuters