Five Indian sailors freed in Nigeria

January 27, 2013 - 1:15:31 am

LAGOS: The five Indian crew members of an oil tanker who were kidnapped last month after heavily armed pirates stormed their vessel off Nigeria’s coast have been released, their employer said yesterday.

Medallion Marine, a Mumbai-based shipping firm, said the hostages were freed in good health, but did not disclose whether a ransom had been paid, or whether Nigeria’s security forces played any role in securing their release.

Kidnap for ransom is common in Nigeria’s southern oil producing Niger Delta region, with expatriate workers often being targeted, but the companies involved rarely comment on ransom demands.

Nigeria’s navy spokesman could not immediately be reached to comment on the circumstances of this release.

“The five crew members who were taken from the (MT SP Brussels) vessel by armed men off the Niger Delta in December have been released,” a company statement said.

“Following medical examinations, the crew members have now been flown home in order to be reunited with their families,” it added.

After the December 17 attack, a company spokesman said that all five people kidnapped were Indian nationals.

A 2009 amnesty deal with rebel groups in the Niger Delta significantly reduced such kidnappings, but they still occur both onshore and in the Gulf of Guinea, which includes the waters off Benin and Togo, as well as Nigeria.