Pirates have freed seven Filipino seafarers who were among 12 hostages seized by pirates off the coast of Nigeria last month, a diplomat said Wednesday.
The victims were released Sunday and have been flown to Switzerland, where they would take a flight back to Manila, the Philippine envoy to Nigeria, Shirley Ho-Vicario, said in a report to the foreign office.
“The Philippine Embassy in Abuja confirmed the release of the Filipino seafarers,” Ho-Vicario said. She did not provide details related to the release.
The seven sailors were among the 12 crew members of the Swiss-owned MV Glarus taken by armed men who boarded their vessel on Sept. 22 as their vessel was making its way from Lagos to Port Harcourt, the capital city of Rivers State in Nigeria, according to the Nigerian Tribune.
Nigerian maritime authorities earlier told local reporters in the capital Abuja that the five other abducted crew members were from Slovenia, Romania, Ukraine, Croatia and Bosnia.
The kidnapping was the fourth time that Filipino seafarers were taken from ships off Nigeria since 2007. In 2011, Filipino seafarer Farolito Vallega, 48, was aboard a German-owned ship, MV Beluga Navigation, when he was shot and killed by Somali pirates, Philippine officials said.
Data from the World Shipping Council shows 12 ships with more than 170 seafarers from around the world are being held hostage by Somali pirates.
Meanwhile, Philippine diplomats on Wednesday said they were still gathering information about reports that two Filipinos were among the 11 crew members who were seized by pirates from the container ship Pomerenia Sky off the coast of Nigeria on Saturday.
Maersk Line, which chartered the container ship owned by Peter Döhle Schiffahrts, told the German News Agency DPA that the pirates did not take nine other crew members.
The Danish shipping company said it could “confirm, that the charter vessel Pomerenia Sky, which is managed and operated by the company Midocean Limited, has been attacked while approaching Onne, Nigeria.”