Yaoundé, Cameroon, Feb 26 – An administrative official was snatched over the weekend from one of Cameroon’s restive English-speaking regions in the second such kidnapping in a fortnight, state media reported on Monday.
The man was taken by armed men near Batibo, which lies 40 kilometres (25 miles) west of the city of Bamenda, and the same area from which another local official was taken on February 11.
“The regional representative for social affairs for the northwest region has been missing since Saturday. He was taken while in his car in the Batibo area by armed attackers,” Cameroon Radio Television (CrTV) said.
Regional police officials confirmed the kidnapping to CrTV, saying they had recovered his burnt-out vehicle.
The abduction was claimed on social media by the so-called Ambazonia Defence Forces (ADF), an armed group of English-speaking separatists from a self-proclaimed republic independent from the majority French-speaking country.
The ADF, headed by firebrand former student trade unionist Lucas Cho Ayaba, also snatched Namata Diteng, deputy head of the Batibo district earlier this month.
Dozens of people have been killed since October in Cameroon’s two restive anglophone regions following a violent government crackdown on protests against the mainly French-speaking government.
The situation worsened at the end of January when 47 separatists, including Sisiku Ayuk Tabe, one of their leaders, were arrested in Nigeria, which sent them back to Cameroon, prompting a fresh wave of violence.
Aside from targeting police and soldiers, some separatist groups appear to be turning to kidnapping, as well as threatening French firms located in English-speaking areas.
Anglophones account for about a fifth of the west African country’s 23 million population.
On Thursday, a presidential decree paved the way for the creation of a fifth military subdivision which will oversee western Cameroon and be based in Bamenda.