Five Indian sailors who had been abducted by armed assailants off the coast of Nigeria following an attack on their ship, have been released, the vessel's operating company says. According to a statement issued by the Medallion Marine shipping company on Saturday, “The five crew members who were taken from the (MT SP Brussels) vessel by armed men off the Niger Delta in December  have been released.” “Following medical examinations, the crew members have now been flown home in order to be reunited with their families,” it added.
This comes after the Mumbai-based shipping firm issued a statement on December 19, 2012, saying that gunmen stormed the SP Brussels tanker ship about 64 kilometers (40 miles) off the coast of Niger Delta, kidnapping five Indian sailors.The armed men also stole the personal belongings of the staff on board, the statement added. Kidnapping for ransom, often targeting foreign oil workers, frequently occurs in the petroleum-rich Niger Delta. The heavily polluted Niger delta is Nigeria's main oil-producing region. In 2009, an amnesty for militants ended years of conflict in the region. As Africa's main oil producer, Nigeria is the continent's most populous nation and home to some 160 million people. However, the Niger Delta region is deeply poor and corruption is widespread in the area. MAM/PKH