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Crew of Chinese boat freed from kidnappers: Nigerian army


[FILE] Special forces of the Nigerian navy sails to apprehend pirates. (Photo by PIUS UTOMI EKPEI / AFP)

The Nigerian army freed 14 crew members of a Chinese fishing boat from their pirate kidnappers on Saturday after a month in captivity, following a ransom payment, the military said.

The crew of six Chinese, three Indonesians, a Gabon national and four Nigerians were kidnapped in early February when the tuna fishing bat was attacked.

“A ransom of $300,000 was paid before we arrived to rescue them,” and bring them safely to Nigeria, Lieutenant Colonel Mohammed Yahaya told AFP.


Kidnap attacks on ships for ransom have become common occurences in the Gulf of Guinea which runs from Senegal to Angola, taking in the southwest coast of Nigeria.

The perpetrators are usually Nigerian pirates.

The Gulf of Guinea accounted for more 95 percent of all maritime kidnappings last year 130 out of 135 cases, according to the International Maritime Bureau (IMB), which monitors security at sea.

The Chinese fishing boast, registered in Gabon, was seized by such pirates using high-speed boats off the Gabonese port of Port-Gentil on February 7.

The boat with the crew still on board was spotted some 110 kilometres from the Nigerian island of Bonny a few days after the attack.

Maritime security consultants Dryad Global said the hijacked Chinese boat was used as a “mothership” for attacks on oil tankers.

Piracy in the Gulf of Guinea has its roots in Nigeria’s Niger Delta where oil wealth has failed to reach local populations and deep poverty has stoked militancy and armed unrest.

Gangs speed out from swamps to raid passing vessels, snatch crews and spirit them back to Nigeria’s shores.


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