The kidnapped Polish crew, including the captain of the Cyprus-flagged MV Szafir cargo ship has been released, Polish Foreign Affairs Ministry informed.
“We would like to announce that the five Polish sailors who were abducted off the Nigerian coast on 27 November have been released. They are safe and sound, and will soon return home. At the moment, they are under the protection of Poland’s consular services in Nigeria,” the Ministry’s Spokesperson Artur Dmochowski said.
The vessel, which is owned by Voltaire Shipping Company and operated by Euroafrica Services Nigeria Limited, was en route to Onne port from Antwerp when it was attacked.
A group of armed men boarded Szafir approximately seven nautical miles east of Brass at about 01:49 hours local time and took five crew members hostage, including three officers and the captain.
The remaining 11 members of the crew managed to escape the pirates by barricading themselves inside the ship’s engine room.
They had made their way to Poland beforehand and they are now with their families, according to the update.
“The abduction of the Polish sailors and efforts to achieve a happy solution have been a priority for the Polish authorities and Euroafrica, the ship owner, which conducted difficult and protracted negotiations with the kidnappers,” Dmochowski added, without specifying the terms of the crew’s release.
The Polish government had established an interdepartamental emergency task force which cooperated with the ship owner and the Nigerian services to free the abducted crew.