Obscure group claims capture of sailors

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An obscure militant group, the Africa Marine Commando, has claimed to be holding six people seized around Cameroon's port city of Douala in neighbouring Nigeria, a Cameroonian source said Wednesday.

A group of men armed with rocket launchers kidnapped a Croatian and a Filipino working on a Begian-owned dredger clearing the channel in the port of Cameroon's economic hub on the night of September 12.

Four other people were snatched from two more vessels in the same raid, according to different sources, but their nationality is unknown.

The Cameroonian source familiar with the inquiry said the AMC, whose aims are unclear, was demanding the release of ten of its members held by the Cameroon authorities and talks with President Paul Biya.

The privately-owned Cameroon daily Le Jour on Wednesday, reporting the claim, quoted an AMC leader as saying the hostages were being well treated in a camp in Nigeria.

The AMC claimed the kidnap on March 12 of seven Chinese fishermen off the Bakassi peninsula, which is rich in fish stocks and believed to have substantial oil reserves.

Reportedly held for a ransom of 15,000 dollars, they were freed by Cameroonian troops five days later.

On Monday a Cameroonian source said the kidnappers wanted "lots of money" for the release of their latest hostages.

The Bakassi peninsula was at the centre of a territorial dispute between Nigeria and Cameroon for 15 years. It was handed back to Cameroon in August 2008 after the International Court of Justice ruled in Cameroon's favour.

The marshy coastal region has recently witnessed a spike in rebel attacks. Ten oil sector workers including seven French were kidnapped there in late 2008 by a group calling itself the Bakassi Freedom Fighters.

© 2010 AFP

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