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Pirates Kidnap Five, Open Fire on Ship Off Nigeria’s Coast

WARSAW, Poland — Armed attackers abducted five seamen from a cargo ship in Nigerian waters, Poland's government said Friday.

Foreign Minister Witold Waszczykowski said the five Polish nationals, including the captain and three officers, were seized Thursday night from the ship Szafir. A further 11 crew members who barricaded themselves inside the ship were safe and in contact by phone, he said.

Image: Polish cargo ship Szafir hijacked on Nigerian waters
The Szafir leaves the port of Tallin, Estonia, on June 30, 2012. EUROAFRICA SEA LINES / HANDOUT / EPA, file

The Polish EuroAfrica company, the vessel's owner, said the Cypriot-flagged ship was "attacked by armed pirates from two boats, some 35 nautical miles off the Nigerian coast."

The five crew members were "most probably abducted by the pirates" who left after having "ransacked the crew's cabins," EuroAfrica said.

Polish Sea Industry and Navigation Minister Marek Grobarczyk also said it appeared the attack was carried out by pirates.

There were no reports of injuries and no traces of blood were found, Waszczykowski said. The ship was damaged when the attackers opened fire.

According to Waszczykowski, the area where the incident took place was not traditionally frequented by pirates. He added that the kidnappers had yet to make any demands.

The ship was traveling from Antwerp, Belgium, to Nigeria and was carrying metal cranes and other items.

Kidnapping for ransom is rampant all over Nigeria with hostages generally released unharmed if substantial ransoms are paid.