Sat, 09 Dec 2023

Thirty women kidnapped by pro-independence rebels in western Cameroon earlier this week have been released, some with serious injuries.

The women were released on Wednesday, having been captured days earlier in the country's restive English-speaking region.

The Cameroonian authorities said they had been abducted by "heavily armed terrorists" in the village of Kedjom Keku, in the North-West region, then "severely tortured".

The region has been racked for more than six years by a conflict between separatists from the English-speaking minority and the national security forces.

According to the authorities, the women had been protesting against violence and illegal taxes levied by separatists.


Local sources told RFI that the hostages had been released, several of them badly injured.

Some were wounded by gunfire, they said, and one of them may have to undergo amputation.

Esther Oman, from the NGO Reach Out, told RFI: "It's really appalling to learn that women - mothers - are abducted by the very people they consider their own children who are in armed groups. It's a shame.

"Whatever their actions, these women do not deserve such treatment."

Speaking to RFI anonymously, one woman's children told RFI that they were "deeply shocked" that the elders of the village had been attacked.

Separatist movement

In a statement published on Tuesday, the prefecture of the region said that armed separatist groups frequently kidnap civilians in the area, mainly for ransom.

The authorities use the word "terrorists" to refer to armed rebels demanding independence for the North-West and South-West regions.

Killings, kidnappings, stripping girls naked part of Cameroon separatist abuses, HRW says Cameroon's Anglophone crisis, an unravelling catastrophe

The rebels, however, demand independence for the area they call "Ambazonia", which is populated mainly by an English-speaking minority of the predominantly French-speaking country.

Violent clashes erupted in 2017. The conflict has killed more than 6,000 people and displaced at least 765,000 more, according to the International Crisis Group.

Both the separatists and government forces have been accused of atrocities.

Originally published on RFI

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