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Last Updated: Monday, 10 December 2007, 09:48 GMT
Cameroon's Malabo rescue mission
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Cameroon is sending a delegation to Equatorial Guinea to resolve the fate of thousands of its nationals besieged at its diplomatic missions for a week.

Tensions rose after two armed bank robberies in the town of Bata, in which a bystander was killed, which the authorities blamed on Cameroonians.

Security forces raided Cameroonian homes, prompting thousands to seek refuge at their embassy and consulate.

The incident led to attacks on students from Equatorial Guinea in Cameroon.

The BBC's Randy Joe Sa'ah in Yaounde says scores of Equatorial-Guinean students have been flown back home after being chased out of their hostels by irate Cameroonians avenging the harassment of their compatriots.

'Prime target'

Most of the besieged Cameroonians are at their consulate on the mainland town of Bata but the embassy in the capital, Malabo, is also giving refuge to more than 1,000 Cameroonian residents on the island of Bioko.

An official at Cameroon's Foreign Ministry told the Reuters news agency that the Equatorial Guinea authorities routinely blame foreigners for crimes.

"Following the robberies, the authorities in Equatorial Guinea, as is always the case, pointed an accusing finger at all foreigners in the country, with Cameroonians seemingly being the prime target," Reuters quoted the official as saying.

Thousands of Cameroonians are among the foreign nationals who have settled in Equatorial Guinea, particularly since the discovery of large oil and gas deposits in the mid-1990s launched a wave of economic development.

The former Spanish colony has been ruled since 1979 by President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, who seized power from his uncle in a coup.

SEE ALSO
Country profile: Cameroon
13 Oct 07 |  Country profiles
Country profile: Equatorial Guinea
20 Oct 07 |  Country profiles

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