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PRETORIA, October 19 (Itar-Tass) — The Russian sailors that were taken hostage in Nigeria have not been hurt. No force operations to release them are planned, since the location of the hostages is unknown, Russian charge d’affaires in Nigeria Valery Shaposhnikov told Itar-Tass by telephone on Friday.
“The sailors who returned confirmed that at the time of the attack nobody was hurt. There is no more news. The whereabouts of the kidnapped Russians and an Estonian citizen are unknown,” he said.
“The kidnappers have not identified themselves in any way. In essence, we are at the stage of gathering information,” he said, adding that no one has claimed responsibility for the kidnapping or demanded a ransom. The embassy “is in permanent contact” with the Nigerian authorities investigating the kidnapping, Shaposhnikov said.
On Monday, pirates attacked in the oil-rich area of the Niger Delta the Bourbon Liberty 249 tug, belonging to the French company Bourbon and took hostage the leadership of the crew - six Russians and one Estonian. After that the pirates took the kidnapped sailors away in an unknown direction. The vessel with the remaining eight crewmembers arrived at Onne port.
The rebel group Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) is active for many years in the incident area. The group claims that it defends the interests of the population of the country’s oil-producing regions, seeking the redistribution of oil sale revenues in its favour. Nigeria is the largest oil producer in Africa.