Cameroon says six maritime hostages freed in raid

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Thursday, 30 September 2010 08:34 GMT

* Hostages rescued by military raid

* Hostages undergoing medical treatment

(Adds detail, quotes, confirms nationalities)

YAOUNDE, Sept 30 (Reuters) - Six people who were taken hostage off the coast of Cameroon on Sept. 12 have been freed after a military raid, Cameroon&${esc.hash}39;s communications minister said on Thursday.

The hostages -- four Ukrainians, one Croatian and one Filipino -- were undergoing medical treatment and would be handed over to representatives from their respective diplomatic missions on Friday, he said.

"The six hostages have been liberated after an operation carried out by our defence and security forces," minister Issa Tchiroma told reporters. "At the moment all the hostages are in a safe place in the company of our security and defence forces."

Tchiroma would not give any more details about the military operation.

Earlier this month, Belgian shipping group Jan De Nul said two crew members -- a Croatian and a Filipino -- were taken from a dredger outside the Atlantic port of Douala on Sept. 12, while local media reported a second ship was attacked with four Cameroonian crew taken.

Rebels from Cameroon&${esc.hash}39;s restive Bakassi Peninsula who claimed to have carried out the kidnap demanded earlier this week the release of eight of their fighters in exchange for the hostages.

Jerry Owei, leader of the Bakassi Freedom Fighters splinter group Africa Marine Commando (AMC), on Wednesday claimed responsibility for the raid. (Reporting by Tansa Musa; Editing by Daniel Magnowski)

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