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Hostage dies in rescue attempt

One of the 10 hostages seized by a local militia off Cameroon's coast last week was killed in a failed rescue attempt by Nigerian marines, a leader of the militia said Wednesday.

The unidentified hostage was killed when the marines attacked the militia in Cameroon's Bakassi Peninsula, militia commander Ebi Dari said.

Bakassi is part of Cameroon, and it was not clear why security forces from neighboring Nigeria would be involved. Nigerian and Cameroonian officials could not immediately be reached for comment.

Dari said he did not know the identity of the slain hostage and did not say when he died.


Gunmen in speedboats seized six French workers, two Cameroonians, one Senegalese and one Tunisian from an oil-industry tugboat off Cameroon's coast Friday. France later said a seventh hostage also had French nationality, but it was not known which one.

Stephanie Elbaz, spokeswoman for maritime services company Bourbon that owns Bourbon Sagitta - from which the hostages were taken - said the company has no comment on the report.

Dari gave few details, saying only "one hostage has been killed during an exchange of gunfire between my people and Nigerian marines." He said Nigerian forces shot the hostage.

Dari is the leader of the Cameroon-based Niger Delta Defense and Security Council, an umbrella group for several militias that have operated in Bakassi for years. The militias want autonomy for Bakassi and say it desperately needs more development.

Cameroon took full control of Bakassi in August after an arduous peace agreement, but militias including Dari's have waged low-level attacks on Cameroon's troops.

The volatile Bakassi region neighbors Nigeria's troubled oil-rich Niger Delta, where oil-worker kidnappings carried out by Nigerian militias claiming a greater share of oil wealth are commonplace.

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