Pirates release 12 hostages taken from Swiss shipper’s crew

GENEVA (AP) — A Swiss shipping company said Monday that 12 crew members of a bulk carrier who were abducted by pirates more than five weeks ago near Nigeria have been released, as Polish authorities confirmed a new hostage-taking off the West African country’s coast.

Massoel Shipping said the seven Filipinos, a Slovenian, a Ukrainian, a Romanian, a Croatian and a Bosnian who were abducted in September were freed on Saturday in Port Harcourt, Nigeria, and were in Switzerland before returning home.

The Geneva-based company said it would not provide details of the release “as to do so would only encourage further criminal acts of this kind.”

Massoel said the ship carrying wheat was attacked Sept. 22 as it sailed from Lagos to Port Harcourt. The attackers apparently boarded using long ladders and cut razor wire on the deck to reach the bridge. Seven crew members were not captured.

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Blake Sinclair, a spokesman for Massoel, said the crew members were “as well as can be expected, given the circumstances.” He said details of their detention were not immediately available.

In the latest hostage-taking, Poland’s Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz confirmed that 11 crew members of a Liberian-flagged container ship, the Pomerenia Sky, including eight Poles, had been abducted off Nigeria’s coast.

“Poland’s consulate is in talks. We will see,” Czaputowicz said, adding that he could not reveal more details.

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Monika Scislowska contributed from Warsaw, Poland.

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