Nigerian rebels claim they got $2M ransom for Americans

A photo taken on September 17, 2008, shows fighters of the Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta (MEND) as they prepare for an operation against the Nigerian army in the Niger Delta. PIUS UTOMI EKPEI/AFP/Getty Images

LAGOS, Nigeria - Rebels are claiming responsibility for the kidnapping and release for ransom of two American sailors off the coast of the oil-rich Niger Delta.

A statement purporting to come from the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta said Sunday that it received $2-million ransom for the sailors, mostly from Nigerian authorities.

U.S. officials had identified the mariners as the captain and chief engineer of the U.S.-flagged C-Retriever offshore supply vessel taken in an Oct. 23 attack.

Analysts believe the militant group has lost much of its operational capability, but oil pipeline attacks and kidnappings are still common in the Niger Delta.

Almost all foreigners kidnapped are released once ransoms are paid.

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