22:20 GMT03 December 2020
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    MURMANSK (Sputnik) - Pirates have released nine crew members of Norwegian ship MV Bonita, which was attacked last month off the coast of Benin, the J. J. Ugland shipping company has announced.

    "We are delighted to confirm that late on Friday evening, 6 December 2019, the nine crew members from MV Bonita held as hostages, were released in Nigeria and brought to a safe place in southern Nigeria, after 35 days in captivity", the company said in a statement, released on its official website.

    According to the release, all crew members have gone through medical examinations in Nigeria and are feeling fine.

    "The crew members will receive further care and follow up after arrival in the Philippines. Ugland will continue to work with our crew members throughout their recovery process," the ship operator said, adding that the crew members have already arrived in Manila, the capital of the Philippines.

    "We are truly happy that the nine crew members are now reunited with their families and have their wellbeing at heart. I would on behalf of the company like to sincerely thank all parties that have contributed to resolving this difficult situation", J. J. Ugland President Oystein Beisland said, as quoted in the company's release.

    The company's president did not disclose the conditions on which the sailors had been released, mentioning only that the company had made every effort to ensure that they returned home to their families safely.

    On 2 November, pirates attacked the Norwegian ship MV Bonita off the coast of Benin and kidnapped nine people. The remaining crew arrived in the port city of Cotonou and reported the incident to local authorities. All the kidnapped people were Filipino nationals.

    Norway's Foreign Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Guri Solberg told the Norwegian News Agency (NTB) last month that no Norwegian citizens were involved in the incident.

    West Africa is considered to be a high risk area for shipping due to the pirates operating regularly in the region. Similar attacks have previously occurred off the coasts of Togo and Nigeria.

    attacks, shipping, West Africa, kidnapping, pirates, Philippines, Norway, Benin
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