Fifteen foreign sailors kidnapped in Nigeria freed

Pirates` activities off the coast of Niger Delta have increased in few years.

Abuja: Twelve foreign sailors taken hostage by pirates off the coast of Nigeria`s oil-rich Niger Delta region were freed on Sunday alongside three others captured in May.

"Sailors forcefully taken from a German vessel BBC Palonia and one other vessel have been freed but I cannot give details of how they were released," Nigeria`s Joint Military Task Force spokesman Lt Col Timothy Antigha said.

In Port Harcourt, the capital of Rivers State, police spokeswoman Rita Abbey said that the hostages were brought to shore by last evening.

"A review of the situation showed that the Captain who was suspected to have died in the attack only sustained a gunshot wound on the leg and no life was lost," she said.

According to her, the affected ship is on lease to BBC Germany, a freight company based in Germany and the vessel was to deliver 4000 tonnes of construction equipment to Onne port in Port Harcourt but was delayed in nearby high seas due to disagreement between its two Nigerian interest companies - Hyundai and Total.

Pirates` activities off the coast of oil-rich Niger Delta have increased in last few years.

An amnesty programme by the West African country`s government in which the militants could exchange their arms for some monetary compensation was delayed due to the ill health of former President Umaru Musa Yar`Adua who died in May.

The ex-militants took to the streets last month to demonstrate their perceived neglect by the government. His successor President Goodluck Jonathan promised to carry on with the amnesty and recently brought in some foreigners to train the militants to become useful members of the society.

PTI

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