Pirates have abducted 12 crew members from a cargo vessel that was loaded with wheat off the coast of Nigeria.

Operated by Switzerland’s Massoel Shipping, the MV Glarus vessel was sailing to the Port Harcourt from Lagos when it was attacked.

The attack occurred on 22 September when the ship was nearly 45 nautical miles southwest of Bonny Island.

According to Agence France-Presse (AFP), the gang of pirates boarded the MV Glarus using long ladders and cut the razor wire on deck.

The gang damaged much of the vessel’s communications equipment, before leaving with 12 of the 19 crew members.

According to Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), the abducted crew members are from the Philippines, Slovenia, Ukraine, Romania, Croatia, and Bosnia.

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Of the crew, seven were from the Philippines while the rest were from each of the other five countries.

“The company is working with the authorities and specialists to secure the speedy and safe release of those being held.”

“They are still missing,” Reuters quoted NIMASA head Sunday Umoren as saying.

Massoel Shipping in a statement, which was cited by independent.co.uk, said: “The company is working with the authorities and specialists to secure the speedy and safe release of those being held.”

Kidnapping for ransom is common in parts of Nigeria, with several foreigners reportedly kidnapped in recent years in the southern Niger Delta region, which is home to most of the oil reservoirs in the country.

A recent report from Oceans Beyond Piracy noted that the area of the Gulf of Guinea remains a ‘dangerous hotbed of pirate activity’.