Three Filipino fishermen and two Ukrainian mechanics have been released off Cameroon’s Bakassi peninula, without ransom being paid to their captors, the daily Le Jour reported Friday.
The five men were seized from a trawler off the Cameroon coast on July 6, according to media reports and sources close to the investigation in the Gulf of Guinea at the time.
"There was no ransom paid, nor any exchange of any kind during the course of negotiations," said a source quoted by Le Jour, which is usually well-informed in matters concerning the region.
The kidnap was initially blamed on a armed Nigerian group, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), but this force, active in Nigeria’s oil-rich south, denied any part in the affair.
In the past year, attacks at sea have been on the increase off the Bakassi peninsula, which was disputed with Nigeria for 15 years and is believed to be rich in oil and natural gas, as well as fish stocks.
Friday was the first anniversary of the official handing over of the Bakassi peninsula to Cameroon by Nigeria on August 14, 2008, in line with an international court ruling, but no ceremonies were held to mark the event.