Family speechless after Mid-South man freed from pirates - - Jackson, MS

Family speechless after Mid-South man freed from pirates

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By Janice Broach - bio | email

WINONA, MS (WMC-TV) - A Mid-South man was rescued during a military raid Wednesday after nine days in captivity.

Jeff James was one of seven oil workers held hostage by pirates off the coast of Nigeria.  James and his group were kidnapped from an oil platform on November 8.

James family in Winona, Mississippi was almost speechless after just finding out he had been released by Nigerian pirates.

"We're basically at a loss for words," said James' brother-in-law, Frank Vaughn.  "We're in shock."

For more than a week, family members did not know if James, the father of three sons, was alive.

People in the small town did not acknowledge publicly James had been kidnapped.  His family did not want to do anything that would anger his captors.

"It's a miracle," said neighbor Sonny Vance.  "They could have been murdered."

Action News 5 was the first to speak with the family, who had remained silent since the kidnapping.

James, an engineer, traveled the world working on oil rigs.

The rescue of James and the other hostages came after a raid by the Nigerian military in the oil-rich southern Nigerian delta.  The pirates, a contingent of militants, claimed they belonged to the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta.  Their goal was to get more money in the area gripped by poverty and pollution from oil production.

James' family said they did not consider his job dangerous until now.

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