Cameroon Says Kidnapped Senator, Others Freed In Northwest
Cameroon troops have freed a kidnapped senator from President Paul Biya’s ruling party and several other hostages, in a raid in a breakaway region that also killed a dozen “terrorists,” the army said Tuesday.
Senator Elizabeth Regine Mundi was kidnapped with her driver on April 30 in Bamenda in the Northwest Region, where anglophone separatists have mounted an armed campaign to separate from the majority French-speaking country.
Two wings of the self-described Ambazonian Defence Forces (ADF) had claimed responsibility for the abduction, a senior local official said.
In an army raid on a “terrorist refuge” in Ashong late on Monday “several hostages were freed, including the senator,” army spokesman Cyrille Atonfack Guemo said in a statement.
He did not provide the exact number of people liberated.
“A dozen terrorists were neutralised, several others wounded and fled. Three were captured,” he said.
Mundi, who hails from the Northwest Region, is a member of the politburo of Biya’s Cameroon People’s Democratic Movement (RDPC).
In 2017, separatists seeking self-rule in the Northwest and neighbouring Southwest Region declared an entity called the Federal Republic of Ambazonia.
Clashes between militants and security forces have claimed more than 6,000 lives and displaced around a million people, according to the International Crisis Group (ICG).
The separatists have frequently carried out kidnappings, usually of civil servants, and some have been killed. Church leaders and politicians have also been aducted but mostly are later freed.
The country has been ruled with an iron fist for nearly 40 years by 89-year-old Biya, who refused demands for federalism and has cracked down on the rebellion.
Civilians have suffered abuses committed by both sides, according to international NGOs and the United Nations.
The presence of the anglophone regions derives from the colonial era.
The former German possession of Cameroon was partitioned after World War I between Britain and France.
In 1961, part of the British territory, the Southern Cameroons, joined Cameroon after it gained independence from France, becoming the Northwest and Southwest regions.
Anglophones have long chafed about perceived inequality, especially in education and law.