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By Tansa Musa
YAOUNDE (Reuters) - Cameroon's military killed four pirates who had attacked a fishing vessel off the Bakassi peninsula, destroying their speedboat and seizing a stash of weapons, the Ministry of Defence said on Thursday.
Three other gunmen injured in the counter-attack by Cameroon's rapid intervention force were taken prisoner and two others went missing, the ministry said in a release read over state radio.
The incident October 10 was the first reported pirate attack in the Gulf of Guinea since March, when gunmen attacked a supply vessel contracted by Royal Dutch Shell, kidnapping four crew in the same region near the Nigerian border.
Cameroon forces are investigating who is responsible for the latest attack in the volatile region, home to myriad rebel factions and smugglers.
A former commander of the rebel group Niger Delta Defence and Security Council had sent a letter to the Cameroon government in August warning of an imminent attack by the group's former allies the Bakassi Freedom Fighters.
"The attack has come to confirm the letter I sent to the Cameroon government in August warning them of an imminent attack by the BFF," Ebi Dari, who masterminded a series of pirate attacks in 2007 and 2008, told Reuters by phone.
BFF has said it is seeking compensation on behalf of Nigerians compelled to leave the Bakassi peninsula after the disputed land was handed over to Cameroon in 2008.
In the past three years, heavily armed gunmen in fast launches from BFF joined other militants operating in Nigeria's Niger Delta to prey on oil installations, oil and fishing boats and coastal towns in the Gulf of Guinea.
In the latest incident, the fishing vessel, named Rose Three, is owned by Atlantic Shrimmer Ltd., according to the ministry.
(Reporting by Tansa Musa; Writing by Richard Valdmanis; Editing by Giles Elgood)