Seven heavily armed assailants boarded a Cameroonian ship with 150 people on board off the coast of Nigeria Saturday and took its captain hostage, a shipping company and a witness told AFP. The others on board were released unharmed, they said. “The Cameroonian ship Monica was attacked around 8:00 am (0700 GMT). The captain on board was abducted,” a man who was on the ship during the attack said from Yaounde, adding that no one was injured. A spokesman for the Corner Water Shipping Company Ltd, which manages the ship, confirmed the incident. “The captain was kidnapped. Our office in Calabar is negotiating to have him freed. The passengers are unharmed,” he said. In Nigeria, navy spokesman Kabir Aliyu said the incident took place as the passenger boat was on its way from Cameroon to Oron in Nigeria.
“The captain was kidnapped while all passengers and crew (were) released,” he said. “The boat left back to Cameroon this morning after being escorted by (Nigerian navy personnel).” He could not provide further details, including on the captain. The passenger who witnessed the incident said the ship had left Limbe in southwest Cameroon on Friday night headed for Nigeria. He said that three hours into the journey, “seven heavily armed assailants” boarded the ship and demanded a “monthly security tax” from the captain. The witness said the captain told the attackers he had already paid their commander but they seized him to verify his story. The witness said the attackers had also asked those on board to “voluntarily” give them money and most passengers complied. “There are 150 people on board and a lot of merchandise,” the witness added. Cameroonian authorities have attributed attacks and kidnappings off the Bakassi peninsula over the last three years to pirates. The area is believed to be rich in oil and gas. Several groups involved in these attacks have asked oil and shipping companies for the monthly payment of protection money.
Date: 29 Aug2011 Source : Khaleejtimes