Two Russians seized in attack on ship in Cameroon

The Russian captain and chief engineer were abducted when gunmen raided their cargo ship in the Cameroonian port of Douala, a Russian official said.

Two Russians seized in attack on ship in Cameroon

The Russian captain and chief engineer were abducted when gunmen raided their cargo ship in the Cameroonian port of Douala, a Russian official and a seafarers association said on Tuesday.

The incident took place late on Sunday when attackers boarded and robbed the crew of the North Spirit, a 6,400 dwt cargo ship, before making off with the two men.

"Armed people came on board, they robbed the cabin (crew) and they took the master and chief engineer," Vadim Ivanov, head of foreign relations at the Seafarers' Union of Russia, told Reuters by telephone.

"As far as I know, there have been no claims for ransom," Ivanov added.

The rest of the crew, a mixture of Russians and Ukrainians, were left on the ship, Ivanov said.

A Russian embassy official in Yaounde confirmed the attack and said two Russians were missing, but had no more details.

"Neither the Cameroonian side nor the Russian embassy possesses any information about the persons who did it," said the official, who gave his name as K.V. Lobko.

Cameroon's government said it was not aware of the incident.

Countries in Africa's oil-producing Gulf of Guinea say the threat of piracy is spreading from Nigeria's Niger Delta across much of their region. Cameroon last month partly blamed piracy for a 13 percent slide in oil production in 2009.

Attacks in the Gulf of Guinea are not on the scale of those in the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean, where pirates are earning tens of millions of dollars from seizing merchant vessels.

But the region is becoming increasingly important because of its energy reserves and foreign forces are trying to help local navies and coastguards fight the threat.

Cameroon's oil output averages 73,000 barrels per day (bpd), down from 84,000 bpd in 2008. Some 95 percent of its oil comes from the Rio del Rey basin in the Gulf of Guinea, which has seen a spike in attacks on commercial vessels in recent months.

Analysts say such attacks could deter investors.

Neighbouring Equatorial Guinea, whose island capital, Malabo, was attacked last year by seaborne gunmen, warned this month of the threat of piracy to the region's economy.

Reuters

Last Mod: 18 Mayıs 2010, 20:33
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