Hostages seized in Bakassi freed

2011-02-17 12:37

Yaounde - Cameroonian hostages seized earlier this month in the southwest Bakassi region were freed Wednesday, the government announced.

"The hostages have been freed today," government spokesperson and Communications Minister Issa Tchiroma Bakary confirmed.

A press conference will be held on Thursday to give all the details, he added.

One source close to the security services said the authorities had paid the abductors on Tuesday.

On February 06, gunmen abducted the sub-prefect of Akwa, in the Bakassi region, along with 12 other people in his entourage. Tchiroma said later that the official had not been taking the necessary security precautions.

The local security source blamed the raid on members of the Africa Marine Commando (AMC), a shadowy group that claimed responsibility for an attack last November on an oil platform off Bakassi in which six people were killed.

AMC has also been behind several kidnappings of foreigners, although all have been released unharmed.

One report on the daily Mutations suggested that the abductors had demanded more than $2bn for their release.

Violent incidents

The abductions were followed by a series of other violent incidents, during which two police paramilitaries were killed and in the final clash, one Cameroonian soldier.

One of his attackers was also killed in that attack, and a female bystander was wounded by a stray bullet, said the security source.

Cameroon President Paul Biya was forced to cut short a visit to Switzerland to deal with the crisis.

The Bakassi peninsula, a marshy coastal region rich in fish stocks and believed to have substantial oil reserves, was at the centre of a territorial dispute between Nigeria and Cameroon for 15 years.

In August 2008, the International Court of Justice ruled in favour of Cameroon's claim to the territory.