Talks continue on release of Chinese hostages in Cameroon: Chinese Embassy

17:36, March 16, 2010      

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Negotiations continue on the release of seven Chinese nationals kidnapped last week in the Gulf of Guinea off southwest Cameroon, according to the Chinese Embassy in the Central African country.

The Chinese hostages are safe without risk of lives, the embassy reiterated on Monday.

"The Chinese and Cameroonian authorities are working hard to save them. The negotiations are going on," Chinese Ambassador Xue Jinwei told Xinhua.

The Seven Chinese nationals on board two fishing boats owned by China's Dalian Beihai Fishing Company were abducted early Friday morning by gunmen off the Bakassi peninsula.

An "Africa Marine Commando", which had been unknown, claimed responsibility for the kidnapping afterwards.

The Chinese Embassy said at the time that the captives had "no life danger" and that the kidnappers provided them with water and food.

The Two fishing vessels were attacked and robbed at around 2 a. m. (0100 GMT) Friday before returning to the port of Limbe around 7 a.m. (0600 GMT) with two sailors on board slightly injured.

The Bakassi peninsula, which has an area of 1,000 square km and a great potential of oil and gas, has been a hotbed for banditry in the Gulf of Guinea. It was handed over from Nigeria to Cameroon in August 2008 under a ruling by the International Court of Justice in the Hague.

A group of gunmen attacked an oil vessel working in an offshore oilfield for the French petroleum Total in October 2008. Ten of the 15 crew members on board the vessel "Bourbon Sagitta" was kidnapped near the Bakassi peninsula. The kidnappers threatened to kill the hostages before releasing them 12 days later.

Three Chinese workers were abducted by unidentified kidnappers in May 2008 in Calabar, the capital city of Nigeria's southern Cross River State, which is adjacent to Cameroon.

The Cameroonian army deployed a Rapid Response Unit (RRU/ DELTA) in April 2009 to beef up security in the Bakassi peninsula.

In October 2009, RRU/ DELTA killed four pirates and wounded four others at the Idabato sea opening in the Bakassi peninsula.

Source: Xinhua
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