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

The Lagos Port Complex in Lagos Nigeria is seen

Pirates kidnap 12 sailors from Swiss ship in Nigerian waters

A Swiss-operated ship has been attacked off the coast of Nigeria, Switzerland's foreign ministry said, amid media reports that 12 crew members had been kidnapped by a gang of pirates.

"Having destroyed much of the vessel's communications equipment the criminal gang departed taking 12 of the 19 crew complement as hostage". The statement did not give the nationalities of the crew members.

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

Seven other crew members were on board the Massoel Shipping vessel Glarus at the time.

More than 60 crew were reported kidnapped previous year in waters off Nigeria, Africa's leading crude producer, although many attacks are not reported.

A number of foreigners have been kidnapped in the last few years in the southern Niger Delta region, source of most of the oil that is the mainstay of the West African state's economy.

Specialists are en route to ensure the hostages' "speedy and safe release", the shipping company said.

Swiss shipping operators have confirmed that they have been employing armed security personnel to guard their vessels from pirate attacks in hot.

Nigeria's Navy told Reuters it was investigating the incident.

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