A Thai and other foreigners kidnapped by pirates who hijacked a ship over the weekend off the Nigerian coast are safe, Thai Foreign Minister Surapong Tohvichakchaikul said on Wednesday.
However, he declined to reveal any details of the incident including the names of those held, saying it was sensitive issue and the safety of the kidnapped crewmen is a priority.
The Thai Foreign Ministry is coordinating with several agencies to help the Thai crewman and the embassy in Abuja is in contact with the Nigerian government and the Dutchbased Sea Trucks Group (STG), the crew’s employer.
STG housing barge Jascon 33 was attacked by gunmen in the Gulf of Guinea, 60km off the Nigerian coast on Saturday.
Twentyseven people were reportedly on the barge, seven of them expatriate workers. STG, which provides support vessels to oil companies operating in Nigeria, confirmed that four nationals from Thailand, Indonesia, Iran, and Malaysia on its staff had been kidnapped, two security guards had been wounded and two Nigerian sailors had been killed.
Surapong said STG representatives have reportedly managed to talk to the kidnapped crewmen and found that they are safe.
The Thai embassy in Abuja has been assigned to work with the embassies of Indonesia and Malaysia to talk to the Nigerian government to secure the release of the crewmen.
Ministry’s spokesman Thani Thongpakdi said the Nigerian government had ordered its navy to intensify its search by boat for the four foreigners kidnapped during the deadly attack but it had not located them.
The Thai embassy in Abuja is closely coordinating with the Indonesian and Malaysian embassies in the Nigerian capital to exchange information on the kidnap victims.
No one has claimed responsibility for the attack but kidnapping and ransom activities are frequent in the area, mostly by the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND).