A Nigerian special forces officer climbs aboard a vessel during an anti-piracy exercise, March 2019 Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption A Nigerian special forces officer climbs aboard a vessel during an anti-piracy exercise, March 2019

Ten Turkish sailors who were kidnapped last month off the coast of West Africa have been released, according to reports in Turkish state media.

The 10 men were bound for Ivory Coast aboard a container ship when the vessel was intercepted by pirates off the coast of Nigeria on 16 July.

The pirates chose the 10 to take off the ship, leaving eight others aboard.

Turkish state media channel TRT said the released sailors were in good health but gave no more details.

It was not clear who had kidnapped the men or if a ransom had been paid.

Their container ship, the Paksoy-1, had been sailing from Cameroon to Ivory Coast when the pirates boarded the ship in the Gulf of Guinea. Numan Paksoy, from the ship’s management company Kadıoğlu Maritime, said “about 12 pirates with heavy guns attacked the boat”.

He told the BBC that the crew members hid in a safe room – the citadel – when the pirates boarded the ship but they emerged after the assailants “threatened to burn the ship and kill all of them”.

The attackers then picked 10 sailors and let the other eight go, he said.

The ship later docked in the port of Tema, in Ghana.

According to the International Maritime Bureau, the Gulf of Guinea is the most dangerous sea in the world for piracy, with 73% of all sea kidnappings and 92% of hostage-takings occurring in the Gulf off the coasts of Nigeria, Guinea, Togo, Benin, and Cameroon.

Separately, four Turkish nationals who were also kidnapped in Nigeria’s Kwara State on 19 July were rescued on 26 July, Turkey’s state media channel TRT news reported.

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Media captionBBC Africa Experts: Piracy in the Gulf of Guinea

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