- Pirates have released four hostages working for a multinational service company providing maritime services to the oil industry, Tidewater, the company statement has confirmed.
The three Filipinos and one Ukrainian who have been in captive for three months have reportedly been freed off southern Cameroon’s Bakassi peninsula on Saturday night.
The four men were among a party of six working on a supply vessel contracted by Royal Dutch Shell when they were abducted on 14 March, by two separate militant groups. The remaining two hostages are believed to still be with their captors.
Reports suggest that half a million dollars was paid in ransom to secure the release of the workers from their kidnappers.
A senior official in Cameroon’s state oil firm said the decision to release the hostages came after lengthy negotiations during which Petcon (Shell Cameroon’s joint venture) accepted to pay money in ransom to the pirates.
Cameroonian officials fear that the May campaign by the Joint Military Taskforce in Nigeria will push the Nigerian rebels away from the Delta and across into Cameroonian waters.
Kidnapping oil foreign 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 handed back last August ending a 15-year border dispute.
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