- - Wednesday, December 26, 2012

South Africa

JOHANNESBURG — Former South African President Nelson Mandela was released Wednesday from a hospital after being treated for a lung infection and having gallstones removed, a government spokesman said. But the 94-year-old anti-apartheid icon will continue to receive medical care at home.

Mr. Mandela had been in the hospital since Dec. 8. In recent days, officials have said he was improving and in good spirits, but doctors have taken extraordinary care with his health because of his age.

Presidential spokesman Mac Maharaj said Mr. Mandela will receive more medical care at his Johannesburg home until he fully recovers.

Mr. Mandela is revered around the world as a symbol of sacrifice and reconciliation, his legacy forged in the fight against apartheid, the system of white minority rule that imprisoned him for 27 years.

NIGERIA

4 foreign sailors kidnapped off coast

LAGOS — Gunmen this week attacked a supply tugboat off the coast of Nigeria’s oil-rich southern delta, kidnapping foreign sailors, including Italians, in the latest attack in the West African region that increasingly is dangerous for shippers and oil companies, officials said this week.

The attack happened 40 nautical miles off the coast of Bayelsa state in the Niger Delta on Sunday night, as the gunmen stormed the moving vessel, the International Maritime Bureau said Monday in a warning to other shippers.

The gunmen seized four workers and later fled, the bureau said. Those remaining onboard safely guided the ship to a nearby harbor, the bureau said.

The bureau did not identify the shipper, nor the sailors.

A separate notice to private security contractors working in Nigeria and seen by The Associated Press, however, identified the four hostages as foreigners.

In Rome, the Foreign Ministry confirmed the kidnapping, saying the four hostages were members of the crew.

A Foreign Ministry official said three of the four were Italian. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to release the information publicly, said he didn’t know the nationality of the fourth hostage.

Pirate attacks are on the rise in West Africa’s Gulf of Guinea, which follows the continent’s southward curve from Liberia to Gabon.

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