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Chinese fishing boat hijacked

The Chinese embassy in Cameroon said earlier that a fishing boat was hijacked off the coast of Cameroon.

Bakassi peninsula (centre)

Seven Chinese fishermen were kidnapped in the incident, which happened on Friday, and a group called the “Africa Marine Commando” claimed responsibility, according to an embassy official.

“We are working together with the Cameroon authorities on ways and means of seeking their release,” the official said.

The ship was hijacked “in international waters off Bakassi”, a peninsula in southwestern Cameroon.

The Chinese news agency Xinhua quoted the Chinese embassy as saying that the kidnapped fishermen were being fed, and their lives were not in danger.

The Agence France-Presse news agency quotes a source close to the investigation of the incident as saying that authorities from both Cameroon and China “are working jointly to secure their release,” and that the fishermen were on a trawler when they were kidnapped.

Africa united in fight against polio outbreak

An extensive vaccination campaign across 19 West and Central African countries is to begin today in an attempt to stem a year-long polio epidemic in the region.

A child receives oral polio vaccine

The United Nations and international aid agencies plan to immunize 85 million children under five. More than 400, 000 volunteers and health workers will take part in the campaign, visiting children in their homes.

The current polio epidemic has been going on for a year and there have been outbreaks in the last six months in Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Senegal and Sierra Leone.

These countries will be the focus of the campaign, along with Benin, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Côte d’Ivoire, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, Niger, Nigeria and Togo. Read More…

Internet access off in west Africa

SAT-3 cable damage caused internet blackouts in multiple west African countries including Benin, Togo, Niger, and Nigeria. Togo and Niger were “completely offline” and Benin was able to “reroute its net traffic through neighboring countries.”

SAT-3 Map

SAT-3 Map

However, the three nations were able to use alternative satellite links in order to maintain some Internet communication with the rest of the world. Nigeria suffered a 70% loss of bandwidth that caused problems in banking, government and other mobile networks.

President of the Nigeria Internet Group, Lanre Ajayi, said, “[the cable is] a critical national resource because of its importance to the economy and to security.”

Two weeks may pass before the cable is fixed.

Cameroon president aide named premier, cabinet reshuffled

President of Cameroon Paul Biya dismisses Prime Minister Ephraïm Inoni and appoints Philémon Yang to the office.

Biya dismissed Inoni from his post as Prime Minister on June 30, 2009, appointing another anglophone, Philemon Yang, to replace him. The reshuffle had been the largest shakeup since Inoni’s own appointment as prime minister. Read More…

Cameroon gives world’s rarest gorilla protection boost

The Cameroon government has created a new national park in an effort to protect the world’s rarest subspecies of gorilla, the critically endangered Cross River.

Cross River Gorilla

Cross River Gorilla

The park is to be named as Takamanda National Park. Approximately 115 of the Cross River gorillas live there, about a third of worldwide population of the species, which is thought to be at about 300.

The Wildlife Conservation Society, or WCS, helped establish the park, and says that it will help slow the hunting and deforestation that have led the Cross River species to the verge of extinction.

Steven E. Sanderson, president and CEO of WCS, said that “the government of Cameroon is to be commended for taking this step in saving the Cross River gorilla for future generations.”

Violent demonstrations in Cameroon

Cameroon protests were a series of violent demonstrations in Cameroon’s biggest cities that took place from 25 February to 29 February 2008. The protests followed on the heels of a strike by transport workers, who were opposing high fuel prices and poor working conditions.

Further political turmoil had been caused by President Paul Biya’s announcement that he wanted the constitution to be amended to remove term limits; without such an amendment, he would have to leave office at the end of his term in 2011. Large groups of youths, whom the opposition Social Democratic Front (SDF) political party and the government blame one another for organising, took to the streets of Douala, Yaoundé, Bamenda, and other major cities, looting and vandalising property. Read More…