At least 30 people have been abducted by suspected criminals operating under the direct supervision of the ADF headed by one Cho Ayaba, local sources said on Wednesday. “More than 30 people were kidnapped yesterday on the road between Buea and Kumba” in the Southern Zone of Southern Cameroons-Ambazonia, a French Cameroun source close to the Francophone authorities there said, confirming an account by a local NGO.
Since October 2017, Southern Cameroons have been in the grip of an armed revolt by Ambazonians demanding independence from the majority French-speaking country. The people were kidnapped after the gang attacked buses plying the highway, one of the most dangerous roads in the country, one of the sources said.
Ransom kidnappings and extortion have proliferated in the territory, along with attacks on troops and police, plus arson assaults on public buildings and schools. The government has responded with a crackdown, deploying thousands of soldiers.
More than 800 members of the security forces and at least 4000 civilians have been killed since, according to the Ambazonian Interim Government. According to UN estimates, more than 437,000 people have fled their homes. The territory known as Southern Cameroons was previously ruled by Britain firstly as an integral part of the Eastern Region of Nigeria and later as an independent state.
They became incorporated into French Cameroun in October 1961, 22 months after France granted the country independence. Over the years, Southern Cameroonians have chafed at perceived discrimination at the hands of the francophone majority, especially in law, education and economic opportunities.
Demands for greater autonomy or a return to Cameroon’s federal structure were rejected by the President Francophone central government in Yaounde. Hardliners became ascendant in the Anglophone movement, leading to the declaration of the self-described Republic of Ambazonia on October 1, 2017, which is yet to be recognised internationally.
Reported by AFP and CIR