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As 7 Filipinos in Nigeria freed, 10 kidnapped in Gulf of Guinea

MANILA: After seven abducted Filipino seafarers were freed in Nigeria, 10 others have been kidnapped in the Gulf of Guinea.

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said it has received information that 10 Filipino seafarers are in the hands of suspected pirates who hijacked two vessels.

The Philippines’ ambassador to Nigeria, Shirley Ho-Vicario, said two Filipino seafarers on board a Liberian-flagged container ship were among 11 crew members kidnapped by pirates who boarded the vessel on Saturday.

Another eight Filipino seafarers on a Panamanian-registered tanker, along with nine other crew members, remain unaccounted for after their vessel was hijacked on Monday, Ho-Vicario added.

The Philippine Embassy is trying to establish the whereabouts of the 10 seafarers and secure their safe release, she said.

It was not immediately clear if they were taken by the same group of pirates who abducted seven Filipinos on board a Swiss-flagged vessel off Nigerian waters.

The seven were released on Sunday, more than a month after they were seized. Their release was announced by the DFA on Tuesday.

The seven were among the 12 crew members of the Swiss-owned MV Glarus who were taken by armed men who boarded the vessel while on its way from Lagos to Port Harcourt on Sept. 22.

Five other Filipinos and two foreign nationals were left on board the vessel. It was not immediately clear why they were not taken.

Ho-Vicario “said the Filipino seafarers are now in Zurich, Switzerland, from where they will be flown to Manila,” the DFA said.

In the first half of 2018, 35 seafarers were kidnapped for ransom in the region, the report added.

Meanwhile, the DFA has advised the Filipino community in Nigeria to remain vigilant as clashes between police and protesters from the Islamic Movement in Nigeria entered their second day on Tuesday.

The Philippine Embassy in Abuja has urged Filipinos in Nigeria’s capital to remain indoors due to the violence.

Ho-Vicario said the embassy is in touch with Filipino community leaders, and no Filipinos have so far been reported to be among the dead and wounded.

Reports place the number of protesters killed at between three and 18. Security forces reportedly opened fire after they were attacked by Shiite protesters demanding the release of their leader.
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