by: HILARY UGURU, Associated Press
Posted: Mar 7, 2021 / 9:41 AM EST
Updated: March 7, 2021 / 9:41 AM EST
UGHELLI, Nigerai (AP) – Ten foreigners kidnapped by pirates last month were rescued in southern Nigeria, the army said.
The victims were released unharmed by Nigerian security forces in Rivers state after Nigerian mediators paid a $ 300,000 ransom for their freedom, Colonel Mohammed Yahaya said at a news conference Saturday night.
The hostages were abducted off the Atlantic coast of the West African country of Gabon on February 7 and included six Chinese nationals, three Indonesians and one Gabonese, all considered fishermen, Yahaya said.
Ransom hijacking has become a lucrative practice in Nigeria.
Hundreds of Nigerian girls were released in the northwest of the country last week after being kidnapped by the Government Girls Secondary School in Jangebe. While officials did not say whether a ransom was paid, they said that “bandits” were behind the kidnapping, referring to the groups of armed men operating in Zamfara state that kidnap for money.
Following the schoolgirls’ kidnappings, Babagana Monguno, head of the government’s national security service, said on state television that banditry and kidnapping in the country was sponsored by powerful non-state actors. He said the bandits “are causing problems for the innocent citizens of Zamfara State”. He said Nigeria’s intelligence and security agencies are investigating the bandits, who are “soon to be arrested and tried.” A curfew and a no-fly zone have been imposed on the state, he said.
The abductions of the girls followed the release of 24 students, six staff and eight relatives on February 17 from Government Science College Kagara, Nigerian state. In December, more than 300 secondary school students in Kankara, northwestern Nigeria, were admitted and later released. The government has said no ransom was paid for the release of the students.
Paying ransom is dangerous because it drives pirates and bandits and “plays right into their hands and feeds their game book,” said Laith Alkhouri, news specialist at CTI-ME Intelligence Advisory.
“Governments must act actively against hostage-taking, be it against ships, journalists or activists, including exchanging information on flash point areas and strengthening security measures at sea and at borders,” he said.