2 kidnapped American sailors freed in Nigeria


The United States has announced the release of two Americans kidnapped by pirates off southern Nigeria in October.

“We welcome the release of the two US citizens who were kidnapped from the Retriever,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.

“It is the policy of the United States not to pay ransom or encourage the payment of ransom money,” the State Department statement said.

“For privacy reasons, we will not provide any additional information on the two individuals or the circumstances of their release,” she added.

Pirates stormed an oil supply vessel off southern Nigeria and kidnapped two American crew members, Nigeria’s navy and US defense officials said last month.

In the latest unrest in a region described as a piracy hotspot, a US-flagged C-Retriever, a 222-foot vessel owned by American oil servicing company Edison Chouest Offshore was attacked off the city of Brass, Nigeria’s navy spokesman Kabir Aliyu told AFP at the time.

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The ship’s chief engineer and captain, both American citizens, were kidnapped in the attack, said US defense officials who requested anonymity, and AKE, a private security firm which closely tracks the region.

Pirate attacks off Nigeria’s coast have jumped by a third this year as ships passing through West Africa’s Gulf of Guinea, a major commodities route, have come under threat from gangs wanting to snatch cargoes and crews.

The White House said last month it was increasingly concerned about the rise in piracy off West Africa.

Unlike the waters off Somalia on the east coast of Africa, through which ships now speed with armed guards on board, many vessels have to anchor to do business off West African countries with little protection.

This makes them targets for criminals and raises insurance costs. Kidnapped sailors and oil workers taken in Nigerian waters are usually released after a ransom is paid.