WASHINGTON — Pirates kidnapped two Americans working on a commercial ship near the coast of Nigeria, U.S. officials said Thursday.
The Nigerian navy ordered its forces to mount a rescue operation.
"We are seeking additional information so we can contribute to the safe resolution of the situation," White House spokesman Jay Carney said. "Our principal concern now is the safe return of two American citizens."
The captain and an engineer were taken from an offshore supply vessel during an attack Wednesday in international waters off the Gulf of Guinea, said a U.S. defense official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the official wasn't authorized to publicly discuss the information, the Associated Press reported.
The two were kidnapped from the U.S.-flagged C-Retriever, a 222-foot ship owned by Edison Chouest Offshore of Louisiana, the official said. The vessel and 11 other members of the crew were released and the two hostages were believed taken to shore in Nigeria, the official said.
It was unclear whether a ransom demand or any other demands had been made.
State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said the United States has been concerned by "a disturbing increase" in maritime crime, including piracy, in the area.