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9 Filipino seafarers kidnapped in Benin
Pirates abducted nine Filipino crew members of Norwegian-flagged MV Bonita off the coast of Benin early Saturday.
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9 Filipino seafarers kidnapped in Benin

Patricia Lourdes Viray (Philstar.com) - November 5, 2019 - 2:01pm

MANILA, Philippines — Nine Filipino seafarers have been abducted by pirates from a cargo ship off the coast of Benin in West Africa.

The Department of Foreign Affairs said the government is monitoring the incident that led to the kidnapping of the Filipino crew members of a Norwegian shipping vessel.

"The Department of Foreign Affairs is in close contact with the seafarers' manning agency and joins the relatives' primary call to ensure our nationals' safety and security," DFA Assistant Secretary Ed Meñez said in a statement.

Shipowner JJ Ugland said pirates boarded anchored vessel MV Bonita early Saturday morning off Cotonou, Benin in the Gulf of Guinea.

"(Nine) crew members were taken off the vessel while she was waiting for berth to discharge inbound cargo, gypsum," JJ Ugland said in a statement posted on its website.

The remaining crew members notified local authorities after the incident and they arrived the same day.

JJ Ugland said its emergency response team is handling the situation in cooperation with relevant authorities.

"The families of the crew members have been contacted and will be kept informed by Ugland. In the interest of the well being of the crew members Ugland will not make any further comments regarding the situation," it said. 

Pirates have also kidnapped four crew members of a Greek oil tanker Elka Aristotle off the coast of neighboring Togo.

According to a report from Lyon-based Euronews, two of the seafarers abducted off the coast of Togo are Filipinos.

The DFA said it has yet to verify the report on Togo as the Philippines does not have an embassy in the country where the incident happened. 

The government will have to work through the embassy in Abuja, Nigeria and their network to verify the report, Meñez said.

BENIN DEPARTMENT OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS GULF OF GUINEA OVERSEAS FILIPINO WORKERS PIRACY SEAFARERS TOGO WEST AFRICA
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