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Page last updated at 23:57 GMT, Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Abducted Chinese fishermen freed in Cameroon

Cameroon with Bakassi Peninsula

Seven Chinese fishermen kidnapped off Cameroon's disputed Bakassi peninsula have been released.

The seven men were abducted from two fishing boats on 12 March by a previously unknown group called the Africa Marine Commando.

They are due to arrive by boat in the coastal town of Limbe, sources told China's Xinhua news agency.

It is unclear if any ransom was paid. AFP news agency says the kidnappers were demanding up to $25,000 (£16,000).

The release was secured after negotiations with Chinese and Cameroonian officials, said China's ambassador to Cameroon, Xue Jinwei.

The BBC's Randy Joe Sa'ah in Yaounde says the Africa Marine Commando is a previously unheard-of group, alleged to be Nigerian.

The disputed oil-rich Bakassi peninsula has been relatively stable in recent months after a series of kidnappings of foreign nationals in 2008 and 2009, our correspondent adds.

The Cameroon government has since deployed a rapid intervention battalion to control the area.

Bakassi juts into the Gulf of Guinea, an area which may contain up to 10% of the world's oil and gas reserves.



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