Ankara (Turkey), Jan 24: Pirates attacked a Turkish cargo ship off the West African coast, kidnapping 15 sailors and killing one, officials said on Sunday.

Turkey’s Maritime Directorate said the crew initially locked themselves in a safe area but the pirates forced entry after six hours. During the struggle, one crew member aboard the MV Mozart died.

Turkish media identified the victim as engineer Farman Ismayilov of Azerbaijan, the only non-Turkish crew member.

After taking most of the crew on Saturday, the pirates left the ship in the Gulf of Guinea with three sailors aboard, state-run Anadolu news agency said. The vessel is currently heading to Gabon’s Port-Gentil.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has twice spoken to the senior officer remaining on the ship, Furkan Yaren, the Turkish presidency said in a tweet. It added that Erdogan issued orders for the recovery of the kidnapped crew.

“The owners and operators of the MV Mozart, which was hijacked at gunpoint in the Gulf of Guinea, have regretfully confirmed that one of its crew has been killed and others abducted,” Istanbul-based Boden Maritime said in a statement. The Liberian-flagged Mozart was sailing from Lagos, Nigeria, to Cape Town.  – AP