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U.S. mariners freed after kidnapping off Nigeria’s coast

(CNN) — Two U.S. citizens who were kidnapped from an oilfield supply ship off Nigeria’s coast last month have been released, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jennifer Psaki confirmed Tuesday.

News of the release comes nearly three weeks after armed men stormed the 221-foot U.S.-flagged C-Retriever and kidnapped the two Americans, identified at the time by U.S. and Nigerian officials as the captain and a chief engineer.

The ship, owned by Louisiana-based Edison Chouest Offshore, was attacked October 23 in the piracy-plagued Gulf of Guinea off Nigeria.

Psaki said Tuesday she would not comment further about the Americans due to privacy concerns.

The oil-rich area off the coast of West Africa has increasingly drawn international attention as a piracy hotspot, with 40 pirate attacks reported in the first nine months of 2013, the International Maritime Bureau reported.