Five Indian sailors kidnapped when their ship was attacked off the coast of Nigeria last month have been released, the vessel s operating company said on Saturday.
Pirates looted the SP Brussels an oil and chemicals tanker on December 17 about 65 km off the coast of the Niger Delta, a vast wetlands region home to Africa’s largest energy industry.
“Five crew members who were taken from the vessel by armed men have been released,” Medallion Marine said in a statement. “All five are reported to be in good health after their ordeal.”
There were no details on how they were freed but in the past ransoms have been paid. The Nigerian navy had no immediate comment.
Piracy and kidnapping in Nigeria s oil-producing Delta and offshore are common. The Gulf of Guinea is second only to the waters off Somalia for the risk of pirate attacks which drives up shipping and oil industry costs.
Nigeria is a busy oil shipping route. The West African country is among the world s top 10 crude oil exporters and imports around 80% of the fuel products needed for its 160 million people due to a lack of domestic refining capacity.
The Indians were abducted by heavily armed pirates who attacked the vessel in which they were travelling.
As many as 23 Indian sailors and one Bangladeshi crew member were kidnapped when pirates hijacked an oil tanker with a Singapore-based company in September.
They were later released when Nigerian navy sent two ships, NNS Zaria and NNS Mwamba, with naval men on board after the captors.