Nineteen Indian sailors who were kidnapped by pirates near the Nigerian coast have been released, the Indian Mission in Nigeria has said.
It, however, said a twentieth sailor lost his life as a result of an ill condition in captivity.
The Indian government on December 14, had said 20 of its nationals aboard an oil tanker, MV Duke, were kidnapped by pirates in the Gulf of Guinea West along the shores of Nigeria.
“Our Mission in Abuja has taken up the matter with the Nigerian authorities, as also with the authorities of the neighboring countries,” the Indian foreign ministry had said.
But in a statement on Sunday, the Indian High Commission in Nigeria via its verified Twitter handle, @india_nigeria, said only 19 were of the crew members were released. It said ”one sadly died in captivity in adverse conditions.”
“Indian Govt and Mission gave the highest priority and worked with @NigeriaGov on the release of 20 Indian seafarers kidnapped on 15 Dec from MV Duke. 19 were released yesterday.
”One sadly died in captivity in adverse conditions. Our deepest condolences. Mission assisting in speedy return,” the High Commission said.
Not the first time
The shipping company, Kadioglu Denizcilik, in a statement then said the vessel was attacked when the pirates boarded the ship on its way from Cameroon to the Ivory Coast in the Gulf of Guinea.
Pirates on December 5 also kidnapped 19 crew members, (all but one of them Indian nationals), from a supertanker off Nigeria. The craft was chartered by French oil major, Total, to deliver crude oil to India.
Pirates also released three crew members taken hostage from a Greek oil tanker off the coast of Togo in November.