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Navy rescues two Russians, Indian ship crew abducted by pirates

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The Nigeria Navy yesterday said it has rescued the three-ship crewmembers of Sterling Global Oil Vessel, MV Ambika, who were abducted by pirates after a gun duel in which four naval ratings were killed.

However, some of the assailants were killed in the encounter, while others escaped with bullet wounds.

The abducted expatriates are two Russians, Roman Dmitriev, 34 and Mikhail Pinenko, 31 and an Indian, Varunraj Annandan 29.

Flag Officer Commanding (FOC), Central Naval Command, Rear Admiral Saidu Garba and Commander of NNS Delta, Rear Admiral Ibrahim Dewu, who paraded the freed hostages at the NNS Delta base in Warri, said they were rescued using intelligence network, while the pirates were taking them to Ondo State in a boat.

Garba said the abducted expatriates were rescued in a surgical operation by the Nigeria Navy team.

“On January 2, 2020, some suspected sea robbers attacked a Sterling Global Oil Vessel, MV Ambika, about 3.2 nautical miles off Ramos River entrance and in the process, a gun battle ensued leading to the death of four naval ratings and some of the assailants, while other members of the gang escaped with billet wounds.

“During the incident, the assailants abducted the Indian and two Russians and moved them to an unidentified location in the creeks,” he said.

The FOC said the central naval command of the Nigeria Navy in conjunction with Operation Delta Safe launched a manhunt for the abductors in a search and rescue operation to free the kidnapped Russian and Indian nationals.

Garba also revealed that following intelligence report on activities of the sea robbers and their plans to relocate the victims to Ondo State, military units in the Niger Delta were placed on red alert, while the criminals were constantly monitored.

He further explained that about 10:30 on January 7, 2020, intelligence report indicated that the abducted victims had been moved to Awoye in Ilaje Council Area of Ondo State, adding that personnel of the Forward Operating Base at Igbokoda were alerted of the development and ambushed the criminals.

He said the Navy rescued the three expatriates and arrested one of the pirates with his weapon and the boat used to convey the victims, saying other members of the gang fled into a nearby creek with bullet wounds and that they were being hunted down with the support of community youths.

The FOC said the rescued victims were receiving medical attention by a team of doctors from the Nigeria Navy Hospital in Warri and that they were all healthy.


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