Barron’s | Nine hostages, including five Catholic priests and a nun, have been freed more than a month after they were seized in violence-torn anglophone Cameroon, the church said on Monday.
“With great joy, I announce the release of the nine people who had been abducted,” Bishop Aloysius Abangalo Fondong of Mamfe diocese said in a statement to AFP.
The six clergy were kidnapped along with three worshippers on September 17 during an attack by unidentified armed men on St Mary’s church in Nchang in the Southwest Region.
The nine were freed on Saturday, the church said, giving no details about the identity of the kidnappers or the conditions in which the release took place.
A church official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told AFP that no ransom had been paid, despite demands from the kidnappers.
Murders, lootings and ransom abductions are a chronic problem in Southwest and neighbouring Northwest Region, the seat of an armed campaign by anglophones in the predominantly French-speaking country.
Anglophone resentment at perceived discrimination snowballed into the declaration of an independent state on October 1, 2017 — the “Federal Republic of Ambazonia”, which is not recognised internationally.
Cameroon’s 89-year-old president, Paul Biya, who has ruled with an iron fist since 1982, has resisted calls for wider autonomy and responded with a crackdown.
The conflict has claimed more than 6,000 lives and forced more than a million people to flee their homes, according to the International Crisis Group (ICG) think tank.
Civilians have suffered abuses committed by both sides, according to international NGOs and the United Nations.