- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Two American sailors who were kidnapped by pirates last month off the coast of Nigeria have been released and are heading home, U.S. officials said.

The unidentified civilians were released over the weekend after a ransom was paid, a State Department spokesman confirmed to Fox News. They were both safe and healthy when released.

The C-Retriever — owned by the U.S. marine transport group Edison Chouest Offshore — was attacked in the Gulf of Guinea on Oct. 23 by an unknown numbers of assailants, an official with the security firm AKE said in a Reuters report.

The victims at the time were identified only as the ship’s captain and its chief engineer.

Pirate attacks off Nigeria’s coast have jumped by a third this year. Around the world, more than 200 “incidents” involving piracy have occurred this year, including 11 hijackings, ABC News reported.

Capt. Eric Flanagan, a Marine Corps spokesman, told Fox News that Marine officials are now considering expanding its presence in and around the Gulf of Guinea to thwart piracy threats.

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