A former senior government official was kidnapped early Wednesday in Southern Cameroons, local authorities said. Emmanuel Ngafeson Bantar, who served as secretary of state in the Ministry of Justice in charge of the penitentiary administration, was kidnapped in Bamenda, a major city of Cameroon’s Anglophone zone ravaged by war between separatists and government forces.
“He was at home with his family when gunmen arrived and ordered him to enter into his own vehicle. They then drove him away to an unknown destination,” a local official who preferred not to be named noted.
“The government is putting all measures in place to secure his safe release,” he said. Family members interviewed said the kidnappers were “well armed” and “did not ask for ransom.”
Bantar is the first member of government who “worked closely” with President Paul Biya to be kidnapped in the Northwest, one of the two troubled English-speaking regions, since armed conflict started in November 2017. Kidnapping has become rampant in the two war-torn Anglophone regions where armed separatists want to create a new nation they called “Ambazonia.”
Also on Wednesday morning, 15 players of University of Buea’s football team were kidnapped in Buea, capital of the English-speaking region of Southwest, according to university authorities. The United Nations estimates that at least 430,000 people in Cameroon have been displaced internally by the conflict.