Thirty-six passengers have been released one day after they were abducted by gunmen on Tuesday along the Buea-Kumba highway in Cameroon’s southwest, one of the two war-torn English-speaking regions, according to local authorities.
“They (kidnappers) took us somewhere and collected money, phones and other belongings from us and released us after. They asked us to trek to our various destinations.” said Divine Asong, one of the kidnapped passengers. “We trekked for a long distance. It was a sad experience,” he added.
After the release, locals held an emergency meeting with senior government officials in Kumba, one of the commercial towns in Cameroon Anglophone, to discuss ways of curbing the rampant kidnappings in the troubled region.
“We asked that government should put in place urgent measures to restore peace in the area. Among other things, we asked that detained separatist leaders should be released and the region demilitarize to appease the people,” a local who attended the meeting told Xinhua.
The abduction came about two months after a group of 79 school children were kidnapped in Bamenda, the most populous city of Cameroon’s Northwest, another English-speaking region. The local government has blamed armed separatists for the abductions, yet the separatists claimed that the government staged the kidnappings to tarnish their image internationally.