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Eight foreign crew members kidnapped from a Singapore-owned container ship off Benin’s coast in April have been freed and are undergoing medical checks, the Nigerian navy said on Monday.

German shipping firm Transeste said the vessel, the Tommi Ritscher, had been boarded by pirates on April 19 while at anchor off the port of Cotonou.

The eight included nationals from Russia, Ukraine, Bulgaria and the Philippines.

“They were all freed on Saturday,” “Admiral Oladele Daji, who headed the rescue operation, told AFP.

“It’s premature to give any details on their captivity and release. They are on medical observation and one of them is receiving medical treatment for malnutrition”.

Transeste confirmed in a statement that the detained crew members had been released and would be repatriated back to their families.

Benin lies at the heart of the Gulf of Guinea, which stretches 5,700 kilometres (3,500 miles) from Senegal to Angola.

Coastal waters in the centre of the vast region have become an epicentre of pirate attacks, lootings and kidnappings for ransom. Many of the pirates come from Nigeria. Agence France-Presse

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