Two kidnapped Russians, one Lithuanian freed in Africa

MOSCOW, July 4 (BestGrowthStock) – Two Russian sailors and one
Lithuanian abducted from their ships in Cameroon in May have
been freed, the Seafarers’ Union of Russia (SUR) said on Sunday.

The Russian captain and chief engineer of the Greek-owned
North Spirit, and the captain from Lithuanian vessel Argo —
abducted on May 16 when unidentified gunmen raided their ships
in an attack analysts said marked an expansion in the range of
West African piracy — are on their way to neighbouring Nigeria.

“The negotiation process lasted a month, finally the Union
has received good news,” the SUR said in a statement, adding the
three would receive a medical check and be met by embassy staff
in Nigeria.

ITAR-TASS news agency, citing a SUR spokeswoman, said the
Greek ship owner Balthellas Chartering paid a ransom for their
release.

The release of the three sailors comes as gunmen attacked
two cargo vessels off the coast of the oil-producing Niger
Delta, killing one crew and kidnapping 12 foreign workers.
[ID:nLDE662046].

On Sunday, the SUR said seven of those kidnapped are
Russian.

Analysts said May’s attack near the port of Douala — which
serves land-locked Chad and the Central African Republic —
showed pirates in the region were venturing further south and
becoming more brazen.

Attacks in the Gulf of Guinea have mostly been clustered off
the Bakassi Peninsula on the restive Nigeria-Cameroon border
where various armed groups operate.

Cameroon in April blamed piracy for part of a 13 percent
slide in oil production in 2009. The country’s output averaged
73,000 barrels per day last year, down from 84,000 bpd in 2008.

(Reporting by Amie Ferris-Rotman)

Two kidnapped Russians, one Lithuanian freed in Africa