Wednesday, January 09, 2013
Nigerian pirates free kidnapped Italian sailors - Italy ministry
MILAN (Reuters) - Three Italian sailors abducted in Nigerian waters before Christmas have been released and will return home soon, Italy's Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday.
They were kidnapped by pirates who boarded their tugboat off the coast of the West African country on December 23.
"Our three sailors are free and they will go back to Italy soon," Italian Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi said in a statement.
Their Italian-registered vessel, identified by the navy as the MV Asso Ventuno, was heading to Port Harcourt when the pirates attacked, kidnapping the three men, the ministry said.
The pirates then released the ship which continued to a safe port, according to the International Maritime Bureau (IMB).
Nigerian authorities cooperated with the search for the three men, Terzi said.
The ministry gave no details of any ransom demand.
It also provided no information about a Ukrainian sailor who Italian media said had also been kidnapped.
Piracy and kidnapping are common in Nigeria's oil-producing Delta and offshore. Last week, pirates attacked and looted an oil tanker off Nigeria and abducted five crew, the ship's operator said.
(Reporting by Antonella Ciancio; Editing by John Stonestreet)