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October 18th, 2012

Pirates Abduct 7 From Oil Vessel Off Nigerian Coast

Seven crew members, including six Russians and one Estonian, were kidnapped from an offshore support vessel off the coast of Nigeria after it was boarded by gunmen. Bourbon Offshore, the owner of the attacked vessel, confirmed that nine other crewmembers were still aboard the Bourbon Liberty 249 and in good health.

The Paris-based company is in contact with crewmembers’ families and has set up an emergency unit to free the maritime piracy victims, but said it wouldn’t comment any further.

The area around the Niger Delta has been a hotspot of offshore oil activity in recent years, and poor economic conditions in the nation have spurred violence toward oil pipelines and foreign workers. Kidnappings in the area have typically ended with the hostages being released within a few weeks after a ransom is paid by their employers.

Military spokesman Lt. Col. Onyema Nwachukwu said Wednesday that forward operational bases had been directed to search the area and find the pirates.

Bourbon Offshore provides support vessels for offshore oil rigs, as well as repair, inspection and maintenance services for undersea oil fields.

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