17 Chinese, Ukrainian seamen kidnapped off Cameroon

The Gulf of Guinea is notorious for piracy, but nations in the region have limited surveillance and maritime defense capabilities. (AFP)
Updated 16 August 2019

17 Chinese, Ukrainian seamen kidnapped off Cameroon

  • A navy source said the kidnappers are probably Nigerian pirates, adding that Cameroon’s security forces had launched a search for them
  • The Gulf of Guinea, whose coastline stretches in a huge arc from Liberia to Gabon, is notorious for piracy as well as oil theft, illegal fishing and human and drugs trafficking

YAOUNDÉ: Nine Chinese and eight Ukrainian seamen were abducted on Thursday when two merchant vessels came under attack in Cameroonian waters, sources said Friday.
“Seventeen Chinese and Ukrainians were kidnapped... (of whom) nine (are) Chinese who were abducted on one of the ships,” an official in the port of Douala told AFP.
A Cameroonian security official, likewise speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed the account.
The abduction was reported on Thursday by sources in the Cameroonian navy and the country’s port service, but their number and nationality were not then known.
The navy source had said the kidnappers “are probably Nigerian pirates,” adding that Cameroon’s security forces had launched a search for them.
The Gulf of Guinea, whose coastline stretches in a huge arc from Liberia to Gabon, is notorious for piracy as well as oil theft, illegal fishing and human and drugs trafficking.
In Malaysia, Noel Choong, who heads the International Maritime Bureau (IMB), a watchdog agency, said the 17 seamen were seized from two ships that were attacked within hours of each other while they were anchored off Douala.
Choong said one of the ships was a multipurpose German-owned ship that flew the flag of Antigua and Barbuda.
“Eight crew were kidnapped from the ship consisting of a total of 12 Asian and European sailors,” he said.
The other vessel was a Liberian-flagged bulk carrier managed in Greece with a Greek owner.
“There were 21 crew on board. All were Asians. Nine crew were taken,” Choong told AFP.
“(The) IMB has issued a warning to all ships at Douala. We ask all ships to take additional precaution.”
According to the IMB’s figures, 62 seafarers were taken hostage or abducted in the area in the first half of 2019.
The Gulf of Guinea accounts for 73 percent of kidnappings and 92 percent of hostage-takings at sea worldwide, it says.
The 17 countries in the Gulf of Guinea and adjacent regions have limited surveillance and maritime defense capabilities.
They have been trying for several years to bolster their means of intervention and to put in place closer collaboration.


Knifeman kills three in suspected terror attack at French church in Nice

Updated 32 min 36 sec ago

Knifeman kills three in suspected terror attack at French church in Nice

  • Two victims died at the Basilica of Notre-Dame while a third person died of injuries
  • Macron called for churches around the country to be given added security

NICE: A man wielding a knife at a church in the French city of Nice killed three people, slitting the throat of at least one, and injured several others before being apprehended by police, officials said Thursday.
French anti-terror prosecutors have opened an inquiry into what the city’s Mayor Christian Estrosi called an “Islamo-fascist attack.”
“He (the attacker) kept repeating ‘Allahu Akbar’ (God is Greater) even while under medication” after he was injured during his arrest, Estrosi told journalists at the scene.NIC

Video footage shows police entering the church in Nice where the attack is thought to have been carried out. (Twitter)

Two victims died at the Basilica of Notre-Dame, in the heart of the city on the Mediterranean coast, while a third person died of injuries after seeking refuge in a nearby bar, a police source told AFP.
“The situation is now under control,” police spokeswoman Florence Gavello said.
France has been on high alert for terror attacks since the January 2015 massacre at the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo. The trial of suspected accomplices in that attack is underway in Paris. 

 

There have been unconfirmed reports that at least one of the victims was decapitated. (Twitter)

In Nice in particular, painful memories remain fresh of the jihadist attack during the Bastille Day fireworks on July 14, 2016, when a man rammed his truck into a crowded promenade, killing 86 people.
It was part of a wave of attacks on French soil, often by so-called “lone wolf” assailants, which has killed more than 250 people since 2015.

 

 

The attacker was captured by police and taken to hospital. (Twitter)

The assault prompted lawmakers in parliament to hold a minute’s silence on Thursday, before Prime Minister Jean Castex and other ministers abruptly left for an emergency meeting with President Emmanuel Macron.
Estrosi, who said Macron would soon be arriving in Nice, called for churches around the country to be given added security or to be closed as a precaution.
(With agencies)