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Crew kidnapped from vessel off Cotonou regain freedom

File photo

The nine crew members that were
kidnapped from the bulk carrier MV Bonita off Cotonou, Benin, early November
have been released, after 35 days in captivity,
Norwegian shipowner J.J. Ugland informed.

Following the release on December
6, the seafarers went through medical examinations and were all declared fit
for travel.

 “After being safely transported out of
Nigeria, the crew members have now safely arrived in Manila, Philippines, to
reunite with their families and colleagues,” the company said.

“Representatives from Ugland
headquarters’ in Grimstad, Norway, and other parties have been actively engaged
in the process of bringing the hostages home and have been present both in
Nigeria and the Philippines.”

The terms of the crew’s release
have not been disclosed.

“We are truly happy that the nine
crew members are now reunited with their families and have their wellbeing at
heart. I would on behalf of the company like to sincerely thank all parties
that have contributed to resolving this difficult situation,” President Øystein
Beisland added.

The nine crew members were taken
hostage from the bulk carrier in the early morning hours of November 2, while
the vessel was anchored off Cotonou, Benin.

The vessel was boarded by pirates
while it was waiting for berth to discharge an inbound cargo of gypsum, a
mineral commonly used as fertiliser, destined for Benin.

There is a growing concern in the
industry over the recent spike in piracy attacks in the Gulf of Guinea. Over
the past month, at least three ships fell victim to piracy, the latest one
resulting in the kidnapping of 19 crew members.

Activities are underway aimed at
the release of the ill-fated seafarers, who were taken hostage from Nave
Constellation while the tanker was sailing around 100 nautical miles off Bonny
Island, Nigeria on December 3, 2019.

Unions and other industry bodies
have been urging relevant authorities to allocate all necessary assets to the
region in order to eliminate piracy in the Gulf of Guinea and protect the
seafarers sailing through the region.
World Maritime News.

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