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UPDATE: Kidnapped captain of Portugal-flagged ship freed. Other crew also set free.

FILE PHOTO: The Captain of the TOMMI RITSCHER (IMO 9656137) has been freed by the pirates who kidnapped him

May 25, 2020 (6:30 pm GMT)

AFP is reporting that all eight crew members, including the captain, kidnapped from a container ship off Benin’s coast last month have been freed, the Nigerian Navy says.

The eight include nationals from Russia, Ukraine, Bulgaria, and the Philippines.

They were freed in a rescue operation on May 23, Nigerian Navy Admiral Oladele Daji told AFP, adding that it was “premature to give any details on their captivity and release.”

“They are on medical observation and one of them is receiving medical treatment for malnutrition,” Daji said on May 25.

The owner of the ship, Hamburg-based shipping firm Transeste, confirmed that the detained crew members had been released and would be repatriated back to their families.

Transeste has said the vessel, the Tommi Ritscher, had been boarded by pirates on April 19 while at anchor off the coast of Benin.

Eleven crew members were able to hide in the ship’s citadel.

REUTERS, MAY 25, 2020

SOFIA (Reuters) – The Bulgarian captain of a Portuguese-flagged cargo ship who was kidnapped along with seven other sailors by pirates off the coast of Benin last month, has been freed, Bulgaria’s foreign ministry said on Monday.

The captain of the container ship Tommi Ritscher, which was attacked at the port of Cotonou in the Gulf of Guinea on April 19, was already in an European country and would soon return to Bulgaria, the ministry said in a statement.

The ministry said it has been in close coordination with the ship’s owners but did not give other details. It’s unclear what whether the other seven sailors have been released.

Reporting by Tsvetelia Tsolova

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