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21 Jul 2009 14:16
Four hostages who work for a service company in the oil industry, Tidewater, have been freed off southern Cameroon’s Bakassi peninsula after about three months in captivity, sources said on Tuesday.
A source close to the case told Agence France-Presse that the three Filipinos and a Ukrainian were freed at sea on Sunday night, confirming a report in Le Jour newspaper, which is usually well-informed on activities in Bakassi.
When released, the workers were taken to Nigeria, the sources said.
Le Jour, quoting an unidentified official, said that “a large sum of money” was paid to the kidnappers as a ransom for the workers, who were seized in mid-March.
The four men are all employees of Tidewater, a multinational that provides maritime services to the oil industry. The source close to the case confirmed that money had changed hands, but did not know how much.
Kidnapping oil workers and employees of service companies is a frequent practice in Nigeria, carried out by bandit groups and by militants in the oil-rich Niger Delta.
In the past year, there has been an increase in attacks at sea in the region off the Bakassi peninsula, which was conceded by Nigeria to Cameroon in August last year after a 15-year border dispute.
The region is potentially rich in oil and natural gas.—Sapa-AFP
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