Posted by By Tansa Musa, Reuters on
Cameroonian authorities searching for six people abducted by armed pirates near the Nigerian border found five mutilated and bullet-riddled bodies, Cameroon's military headquarters said on Sunday.
YAOUNDE - Cameroonian authorities searching for six people abducted by armed pirates near the Nigerian border found five mutilated and bullet-riddled bodies, Cameroon's military headquarters said on Sunday.
Cameroon authorities have blamed previous violence in the area on rebels from Nigeria's oil-producing Niger delta.
Fear of reprisals for the June 9 attack, in which pirates kidnapped five soldiers and a local official, prompted many Nigerians to leave Bakassi, a long-disputed peninsula in the oil-rich Gulf of Guinea.
About 90 percent of Bakassi's population are Nigerian fishermen and their families. Nigeria handed the territory back to Cameroon in 2006 in line with an International Court of Justice ruling.
Cameroon's military authorities said the pirates opened fire last Monday on a boat transporting the Cameroonian official and an eight-man military patrol.
The official and five soldiers were captured while three of the soldiers escaped by plunging into the water, including one who was seriously wounded.
"The mutilated and bullet-riddled corpses were found buried in the mangroves," Cameroon's military headquarters in the capital Yaounde said in a statement.
"The bodies are yet to be identified," it said.
Last November Cameroon said it believed Nigerian rebels were behind a speedboat attack on an army post that left 20 Cameroonian soldiers and 10 assailants dead.
The waters off Bakassi are known to contain oil deposits. The peninsula lies just east of the Niger Delta, Nigeria's oil heartland which produces some two-thirds of the hydrocarbons from Africa's leading oil exporter.
The Niger Delta is notoriously unstable, but piracy and seaborne attacks appear to have spread in recent months with attacks on Nigeria's western neighbor Benin and oil-producing Equatorial Guinea to the south of Bakassi.
The United States imports more than 15 percent of its oil needs from Africa's Gulf of Guinea.
Washington says the region's nearly 2,000 nautical miles of coastline are largely unobserved, uncontrolled and vulnerable to "terrorist groups, criminal gangs, or separatist militias."
(For full Reuters Africa coverage and to have your say on the top issues, visit: http://africa.reuters.com)
(Writing by Alistair Thomson; Editing by Matthew Jones)
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