A French sailor who was kidnapped from a tanker in Togo has been freed in the oil-producing Niger Delta region of Nigeria after an army rescue, the military said on Tuesday.
“The man is a Frenchman and he was abducted from a vessel, MT Adour, which was anchored in Togo before the pirates struck,” military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Onyema Nwachukwu told AFP, adding that he was not sure of the date of the kidnapping.
Soldiers “invaded the kidnappers’ camp and rescued him last night. No one was arrested as the criminals had abandoned the camp on learning of the (soldiers’) approach.”
He said the victim was unhurt, but he was shaken and had not yet provided details of the kidnapping.
The military acted on intelligence and had the cooperation of youths in the Amatu 1 community of Bayelsa state in the Niger Delta, he said.
Piracy with the aim of robbing fuel cargo from tankers and selling it on the black market occurs frequently off west Africa. Nigerian pirates also regularly kidnap foreigners in the country’s oil-producing region to collect ransom payments.
Most kidnap victims in southern Nigeria are freed unharmed after ransoms are paid — unlike in the country’s north, where Islamist extremists have killed a number of their captors.
It was unclear if a ransom was paid to free the French sailor.
Nigeria is Africa’s largest oil producer, but the Niger Delta remains deeply poor.
A 2009 amnesty deal led to a sharp decline in unrest in the region, but criminality continues to be widespread.