Nigerian police have rescued three Indian sailors who were kidnapped from a cargo ship off the coast of Equatorial Guinea last month, a rare success story in its fight against piracy.
The Equatorial Guinea-owned MV San Miguel was attacked by pirates on Jan. 3 and three Indian crew members were kidnapped, the Nigerian state security services (SSS) said on Saturday.
"On 30th January 2014, this service in collaboration with the military rescued three Indians ... No ransom was paid for their release," the SSS said in a statement.
Most acts of piracy in West Africa are carried out by Nigerian gangs who usually steal the cargo, often fuel, and rob or kidnap crew members. Nigeria is Africa's largest crude oil exporter and also a major fuel importer, making it a busy and poorly secured shipping lane.
Hostages are usually transferred to hideouts in the crime-ridden creeks of the Niger Delta before being released once a ransom is paid, security experts say.
Pirate attacks jumped by a third off the coast of West Africa last year, pushing up insurance costs for shipping firms operating in a key commodities export hub.
There are signs that the capacity of hijackers is growing after pirates attacked an oil tanker off the coast of Angola and sailed it to the Nigerian coast last month, in what was the most southerly attack on record.