Gunmen who kidnapped six foreigners off the Bayelsa coastline are demanding a ransom of N200 million, the police in Bayelsa have said.
"Three of those abducted are from Ukraine, two from India, one from Russia," Bayelsa State Police Command spokesman, Fidelis Odunna, said about the Sunday attack.
The foreign sailors were abducted on Sunday when their vessel was attacked off the Bayelsa coastline.
"One of the kidnappers called to demand the sum of N200 million," the police spokesman added in a rare offer of ransom information.
Mr. Odunna said that the Police Anti Kidnapping Squad was already trailing the suspects to secure the victims' freedom.
"Contact has been established with them and they are asking for N200 million," he said.
Bayelsa State recently enacted a law that recommends death penalty for kidnapping in the state, but the law apparently does not deter sea pirates who are increasingly pushing the boundaries in the state.
Piracy offshore of Nigeria and other countries in West Africa's oil-rich Gulf of Guinea is on the increase, tailing the sea way off Somalia in terms of the risk of pirate attacks, which drives up shipping insurance costs.
The International Maritime Bureau, a branch of the International Chamber of Commerce funded by ship owners, has categorised the Gulf of Guinea, which includes the waters off Benin, Nigeria and Togo as an emerging piracy hub.
The spokesman for the Joint Task Force, JTF, in the Niger Delta region, Nwachukwu Onyema, described the targeted vessel as Armada Tuah, operated by the Lagos-based Century Group.
He said the vessel with a crew of 15 was attacked by the pirates 40 nautical miles off southern Bayelsa state, Sunday evening. The vessel was passing by, from Port Harcourt to Abo, a deepwater oil field, where Shell, Agip and several domestic firms have operations, the military spokesman added.
"Troops are already on search and rescue," he added.
The last week has seen a spike in kidnapping crimes in Nigeria. Last Sunday, seven foreigners working for the Lebanese construction company, Setraco, were kidnapped by an emerging Islamic terror gang.
In a separate case on Tuesday, seven French nationals were kidnapped off northern Cameroon and believed to have been taken across the Nigerian border, on motorbikes.