Sailors freed after being captured in Nigeria

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Twelve foreign sailors were released by Nigerian gunmen today, after an incident on Friday when their ship was attacked.

The sailors had been captured in the Niger Delta from their vessel, the BBC Polonia, apparently by one of the numerous armed militant groups in the area, although no one has yet claimed responsibility. One such group, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, said that it was "not involved in this attack but we are aware of the group that carried out the abduction."

The sailors were of multiple nationalities, including seven Russians, two Germans, two Ukrainians, and one Lithuanian. In addition, one Latvian sailor had been a member of the crew of the ship, but was not taken hostage after he was injured in the incident.

A spokesperson for the Nigerian Navy, David Nabaida, said that the navy have gone to meet the fishing trawler the men were released onto. "I don't know who is behind [the attack], but I think it's one of the factions of the ex-militants," he said.

Kidnappings such as this are common in the Niger Delta area, with most being for ransom. The region is the site of the largest oil-producing industries on the continent, and has a high rate of crime.