Accessibility links

Breaking News

Cameroon Forces Free Senator, Others

FILE: A still image taken from a video shows protesters waving Ambazonian flags in front of road block in the English-speaking city of Bamenda, Cameroon. October 1, 2017

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.

Army spokesman Cyrille Atonfack Guemo announced Tuesday that several hostages, including Senator Elizabeth Regine Mundi, were freed in an army raid on a "terrorist refuge" in Ashong late on Monday.

"A dozen terrorists were neutralised, several others wounded and fled. Three were captured," he said.

The senator, from President Paul Biya's ruling Cameroon People's Democratic Movement (RDPC) party, was kidnapped with her driver on April 30 in Bamenda in the Northwest Region.

That area is where anglophone separatists have mounted an armed campaign to separate from the majority French-speaking country.

Two wings of the self-described anglophone Ambazonian Defence Forces (ADF) had claimed responsibility for the abduction, a senior local official said.

In 2017, separatists seeking self-rule in the Northwest and neighboring 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 abducted but mostly are later freed.

The country has been ruled for nearly 40 years by 89-year-old Biya, who refused demands for federalism and has cracked down on the anglophone rebellion.

Civilians have suffered abuses committed by both sides, according to international NGOs and the United Nations.

Anglophones in Cameroon have long complained about their perceived inequalities, especially in education and law.

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.