Lagos — Strong indications emerged yesterday that a group of pirates collected 400,000 US dollars (about N88 million) as ransom before they freed the three foreigners kidnapped off the coast of Nigeria on February 3.
Until they were kidnapped, the two Greeks and a Pakistani worked on board a Greek oil tanker, VLCC Kalamos.
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They were kidnapped three weeks ago off the coast of Nigeria in a bloody attack on the tanker.
A reliable source told Daily Trust that the management of the vessel paid $400,000 as ransom to secure the release of the three seafarers.
Aeolus Management, owner of the Maltese-flagged VLCC Kalamos, in a statement, said the seafarers had been flown to their countries to recover from their "traumatic experiences".
It expressed great sadness over the death of the vessel's chief officer in the February 3 attack in the Gulf of Guinea.
The ship was anchored and awaiting cargo from Qua Iboe, an oil terminal in Nigeria's South-east region operated by US oil giant ExxonMobil, for shipment to China when it was boarded by the pirates.
Between January and September last year the area recorded 33 incidents of piracy and armed robbery, according to the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) which now regards the area as the epicentre of piracy in Africa. It said pirates operating off the coast of Nigeria, Togo and Benin were heavily armed and violent, and often hold crews hostage for several days