MOSCOW, February 20 (RIA Novosti) – Crew members of a ship hijacked three days ago off the Nigerian coast have not been hurt, the Russian Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday.
Earlier in the day Reuters reported that pirates boarded the Armadah Tuah ship on Sunday, holding its crew to ransom. It was not immediately clear what country the ship was registered in.
The Foreign Ministry said there were three Ukrainians, two Indian nationals, one Indonesian and one Russian on board.
“According to the operating company, no crew members were hurt during the hijacking,” the ministry said in a statement posted on its website.
The ministry and the Russian Embassy in Nigeria are in close contact with the ship’s owner and “doing all they can to ensure the early release of all the Russians captured in Nigeria,” the ministry said. It was not clear why the ministry referred to a multiple number of Russians.
According to an AP report, the crew members were taken off the vessel, operated by multinational energy company Century Group. The kidnappers demanded a 200 million naira ($1.27 million) ransom.
There has been no comment from the Nigerian government or from Century Group.
In mid-January, an international maritime watchdog said the activity of sea pirates in international waters has subsided to the lowest level since 2008. The International Maritime Bureau (IMB), an arm of the International Chamber of Commerce, said a total of 297 vessels were attacked by pirates last year, versus 439 in 2011. The IMB’s Piracy Reporting Center also recorded 67 attempted attacks last year.
Pirates took a total of 585 people hostage last year. Six people were killed and 32 were injured.
Somalia and the Gulf of Aden remain the world’s most dangerous maritime routes, accounting for nearly a quarter of the world’s piracy incidents. Seventy-five ships were attacked there last year. This figure, however, is well below the 2011 figure of 237 attacks.
Pirate activity, however, intensified off the coast of Nigeria, where 58 crew members were attacked and 207 were taken hostage in 2012.