YAOUNDE, Cameroon – Six foreigners who were kidnapped off the coast of Cameroon in early September have been released, a government spokesman said Thursday.
Communications Minister Issa Tchiroma Bakary told reporters that the hostages were freed Thursday afternoon following a secret operation by Cameroon security forces.
The six hostages — four Ukrainians, a Croatian, and a Filipino — were kidnapped by unidentified gunmen off Cameroon's main port city of Douala on Sept. 12. The Croatian and Filipino hostages were taken from the Amerigo Vespucci, a dredging ship owned by Belgian firm Jan De Nul and under contract to dredge the port. The four Ukrainians were taken from the cargo ship Salma.
The hostages are undergoing medical examinations and will be handed over to their diplomatic representatives in Cameroon.
Earlier this week, a splinter militia group called the African Marine Commandos claimed it had kidnapped the workers and taken them to neighboring Nigeria. The oil-rich Gulf of Guinea is increasingly becoming a target for pirate attacks, mainly from Nigeria and Cameroon.
Unidentified pirates attacked a boat last May, kidnapping two Russians and a Lithuanian. Chinese nationals were also snatched from the gulf, but were later freed by an anti-terrorist unit.