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Nigerian Kidnappers Of U.S. Mariners In Contact With Rebels

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Nigerian navy special forces patrol the waters during a joint military exercise between Nigerian armed forces, United States, Britain, Netherlands and Spain in Lagos in October 18, 2013. Nigerian armed forces are participating in a three-week joint military training with special forces specialising in fighting maritime criminals drawn from the United States, Netherlands, Britain and Spain, holding in southwest and southern coastal regions under the auspices of African Partnership Station (APS). | Getty

LAGOS, Nigeria -- LAGOS, Nigeria (AP) — Rebels in Nigeria's troubled and oil-rich Niger Delta say they are in contact with the kidnappers of two U.S. mariners and can help ensure their safety.

Officials say the captain and an engineer of the U.S.-flagged vessel named C-Retriever were taken from the offshore supply vessel during a Wednesday afternoon attack in the Gulf of Guinea.

An email reportedly from the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta says the men were captured off the coast of the Nigerian town of Brass.

Nigeria's navy says they are searching for the kidnapped men. They have reported freeing at least two hostages this year and killing several pirates in counter attacks. An American kidnapped from the oil-refining city of Warri last year was freed after a week in captivity.

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