militant gunTwo crew members kidnapped by pirates off Nigeria from a US-flagged supply vessel last month have been released, the US State Department confirmed.

The captain and chief engineer of the Edison Chouest Offshore-owned platform supply vessel C-Retriever were released unharmed at the weekend and are on their way home, according to reports.

They were kidnapped in the Gulf of Guinea by unknown assailants on 23 October. The supply boat was reportedly on its way to Chevron’s oil-producing deep-water Agbami field off Bayelsa state.

“We welcome the release of the two US citizens,” the State Department said in a statement. “For privacy reasons, we will not provide any additional information.”

ABC News reported that the sailors were released after a ransom was paid following hostage negotiations.

The State Department stressed that US policy does not allow the government to pay ransoms, nor does State “encourage the payment of ransom money”. Private parties are not forbidden to pay ransoms, however.

Attacks by pirates off Nigeria have risen by a third in 2013. As many as 15 attacks have occurred this year alone within a 40 kilometre radius of the Agbami platform.


[News Wires]