Pirates release German ship's crew after holding them for a month


A South Korean freighter that was raided by Somali pirates in January, 2011 on the Arabian Sea. Pirates hijacked a Chinese freighter on April 6, 2012 in the Gulf of Oman, and the Iranian navy shadowed the vessel.



A German shipping company said Friday four crew members from one of its ships have been released a month after being kidnapped by pirates off the coast of Equatorial Guinea.

The company, Leonhardt & Blumberg, said the crew members — including Ukrainian, Russian and Kiribati citizens — are in good spirits after spending 31 days in captivity.

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The sailors, who were aboard the Hansa Marburg when they were attacked on April 22 in the Gulf of Guinea, were released Thursday following intense negotiations and are now in Germany.

They were 130 miles southwest of the West African port of Malabo when they were kidnapped by the pirates.

The shipping company said in a statement on Friday that it wouldn't comment on the circumstances of the release and whether or not a ransom was paid, "in order to avoid encouraging further criminal acts of this kind."

"Leonhardt & Blumberg is delighted that the crew members have been released and the company wishes to thank each of them for their courage and fortitude in dealing with this very difficult situation in such a professional manner; also to thank the families of those being held for their patience and courage at such a difficult and worrying time," the company statement also said.