The Hungarian national who was kidnapped by pirates off the coasts of Nigeria in October has been freed. He arrived in Budapest on Saturday, Hungary’s counterterrorism force TEK said.
TEK has been cooperating with international partners and the Hungarian foreign ministry over the past weeks to ensure a safe return of the six kidnapped people, including the Hungarian national, to their homeland, TEK told MTI in a statement on Saturday evening.
According to earlier press reports pirates attacked a German container vessel near the coast of Nigeria on October 21 and kidnapped six crew members,
including 4 Philippines, a Ukrainian and a Hungarian national. The kidnapped crewmen were taken to Nigeria and held in captivity there.
TEK chief János Hajdú said at that time that rescuing them would “realistically” take a month or two. In an interview Hungarian television channel M1, Hajdú said that it could not be predicted precisely how much time such an action will take. It could happen that it will take a month or even a year.
In this same interview, the chief informed that the German authorities and TEK are still working on finding the kidnappers, so the case is not yet over.
As the region is quite unsafe, the freeing had to be done via talks and negotiations. There were no plans to intervene with force.
CEO of the African-Hungarian Union Sándor Balogh told M1 that in many cases pirates are indeed asking for ransom, as the Nigerian shores are neglected and poor areas. There are around 200 kidnappings per year, one-third of them take place in this bay, and three-quarter of the hostages are taken to Nigeria.
Pirates target big ships that are not fast enough to get away from them, so preventing such incidents is not easy.
There are not enough kidnappings for the European governments to take action and involve military force.
Sándor Balogh argues that pirates usually kidnap European nationals and ask for a ransom, but the European authorities never grant them any money. Such attitude is displayed by Hungary as well: there was no ransom paid by the Hungarian government. Hajdú reminded viewers that the Hungarian government has never paid ransom for hostages, nor will ever. But the TEK chief reminds that despite the tendency to ask for a ransom, there are cases when kidnappers are not asking for money.
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