Suspected pirates in a speedboat killed five Cameroonian soldiers and security contractors in an attack near an oil facility in the Gulf of Guinea operated by French oil and gas firm Perenco, the company said.
The overnight attack near the company’s Moudi floating storage and offloading unit (FSO) comes after a series of recent raids on offshore oil facilities in neighbouring Nigeria, home to Africa’s biggest oil and gas industry, Reuters reports.
“The incident … tragically led to the deaths of five Cameroonian personnel, three from the Bataillon d’Intervention Rapide (BIR), a national defence force involved in the security of offshore oil and gas installations, and two civilian security contractors,” Perenco said in a statement.
It said the attack was still being investigated.
“People suspected to be pirates waylaid the BIR boat shortly after midnight, took them completely unaware and opened fire on them immediately,” said a local security source at the BIR office in the port town of Douala.
“Before they could react, five people were already killed,” he said, adding the attack took place off the coast of the Bakassi peninsula, which lies on the border with Nigeria.
Cameroon deployed the specially trained BIR unit to ensure security around Bakassi in April this year after a series of pirate attacks which it blamed for a 13 percent drop in oil output last year.
Gunmen kidnapped seven Nigerian workers from an Exxon Mobil oil platform late on Sunday. That followed a similar attack a week earlier on a rig operated by exploration firm Afren in the same waters, in which two Americans, two Frenchmen, two Indonesians and a Canadian were seized.
Nigeria’s main militant group, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), claimed responsibility for both of the attacks in Nigeria.