At least 10 armed separatists were killed and three hostages freed by the Cameroon army early Wednesday in Njup, a locality in Cameroon’s troubled English-speaking region of Northwest, an army officer said.
The operation was conducted by Cameroon’s elite Rapid Intervention Battalion in collaboration with community defense forces, otherwise known as vigilante groups, the officer, who asked not to be named, said.
“Members of the vigilante group guided government forces to the camp of the separatists. They were ambushed and most of them including their commander were neutralized,” he said. “It was the second operation the military successfully conducted with the vigilante group in that area.”
“The three hostages that were freed during the operation are now receiving medical attention,” the the officer said.
Growing kidnapping for ransom and armed robbery prompted communities to form over 30 vigilante groups in the English-speaking regions of Northwest and Southwest, according to local authorities.
Since 2017, government forces have been clashing with armed separatist forces who want the Anglophone regions to secede from the majority French-speaking nation.
Thousands have been killed and more than 530,000 displaced internally by the conflict, according to the United Nations.
In early October, a national dialogue to end the armed conflict recommended that greater autonomy be given to the Anglophone regions.