3 Italians, 1 Ukrainian kidnapped off Nigeria freed

ROME - Italy's foreign minister says three Italian shipmen and one Ukrainian kidnapped last month off Nigeria's coast have been freed.

Minister Giulio Terzi said in a statement today that the three Italians would be returning home to soon.

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Gunmen had attacked their supply ship and taken them hostage on Dec. 23 as they sailed off the coast of Bayelsa state.

It was the latest attack in the West African region that is increasingly dangerous for shippers and oil companies.

Terzi said their freedom was the fruit of successful diplomatic efforts by Italian and Nigerian officials.

Speaking to RAI state radio, Terzi said the attack was unusual in that the gunmen didn't seize the ship, but rather just took the men hostage.

He said 30 Italians who had been kidnapped in similar incidents in recent months had been freed.

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