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West African Militants Lift Death Threat Against Oil Workers


Militants who kidnapped 10 oil workers off the coast of Cameroon say they no longer plan to kill the hostages.

Instead, they plan to hold them until Cameroon's government agrees to talks on greater autonomy for the Bakassi peninsula.

A spokesman for the militants, Ebi Dari, announced the change Saturday, one day after kidnapping the six French and four African workers from a vessel, the Bourbon Sagitta, at an offshore oil terminal.

The militants - members of the Bakassi Freedom Fighters and the Niger Delta Defense and Security Council - had threatened to kill the workers "one by one." The two groups are opposed to the August transfer of the Bakassi peninsula from Nigeria to Cameroon.

A spokesman for the French Foreign Ministry, Eric Chevallier, says the announcement comes as a relief, but that the government remains worried.

The militants' spokesman says the hostages are doing well.

The two militant groups were linked in attacks in Bakassi in June and July that killed a Cameroonian government official and several soldiers.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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