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Fighters with the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), pictured in 2008. The rebel group claimed responsibility for the kidnapping.

Nigerian Pirates Free Kidnapped U.S. Mariners

By Scott Neuman NPR

Two U.S. crewmembers seized last month from a ship off the coast of Nigeria have been released by their pirate captors, the State Department said Tuesday.

The captain and engineer from the U.S.-flagged C-Retriever, a 222-foot offshore resupply, were abducted on Oct. 23 when gunman boarded the vessel.

As we wrote in October, an email from the rebel group Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, originally claimed responsibility for the kidnapping. It’s not clear whether the captors were in fact affiliated with the rebel group.

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Tuesday that the U.S. welcomes the release of the two Americans, but said she could not comment on the details due to privacy concerns.

The Associated Press notes: “Nearly all foreigners kidnapped are released after ransoms are paid.”

And, by way of background, Reuters says:

“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.”

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