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Two Kidnapped Russians, One Lithuanian Freed In Africa

Two Russian sailors and one Lithuanian abducted from their ships in Cameroon in May have been freed, the Seafarers' Union of Russia (SUR) said today.

The Russian captain and chief engineer of the Greek-owned "North Spirit," and the captain from the Lithuanian vessel "Argo" -- abducted on May 16 when unidentified gunmen raided their ships in an attack analysts said marked an expansion in the range of West African piracy -- are on their way to neighboring Nigeria.

"The negotiation process lasted a month; finally, the union has received good news," the SUR said in a statement, adding the three would receive a medical check and be met by embassy staff in Nigeria.

ITAR-TASS news agency, citing a SUR spokeswoman, said the Greek ship owner Balthellas Chartering paid a ransom for their release.

The release of the three sailors comes as gunmen attacked two cargo vessels off the coast of the oil-producing Niger Delta, killing one crew and kidnapping 12 foreign workers.

The SUR said seven of those kidnapped are Russian.

-- Reuters