CAMEROON: BANGEM MAYOR AND DEPUTY KIDNAPPED BY AMBAZONIA FIGHTERS DURING THE MAY 20 CELEBRATION
A group of armed men suspected to be Ambazonia fighters have kidnapped Ekuh Simon the Mayor of Bangem Council, and his deputy Enongene Epie Manga.
In a video shared by suspected armed separatists Ekuh Simon said he and his deputy were kidnapped by separatists for planning independence celebrations. He said he is being held hostage by the Ambazonia Restoration Forces that had said the national day should not be celebrated. Ambazonia is the name separatists have given to the English-speaking area they want to become independent from French-speaking Cameroon.
Fighting was also reported in the English-speaking towns of Konye, Batibo, Ekona and several villages of Kupe Muanenguba, an administrative area in southwestern Cameroon. At least two policemen and several people were killed, according to the governor of the south west region Bernard Okalia Bilai. In the towns that were attacked, many escaped to the bushes and safer neighboring towns.
The Mayor Ekuh Simon and his deputy were kidnapped in the village of Ndibsi, in Bangem subdivision and their lives in on the balance as the abductors have asked that no one from Bangem should take part in the March Past else the men will be killed. Elsewhere, there have sporadic gunshots in Batibo and Belo Subdivisions in Momo and Boyo Divisions in the North West region. Soldiers on their way to Bamenda were attacked also along the Bali-Batibo Bridge while those in Belo came face-to-face with Ambazonia fighters in a fierce shootout.
It has been a tense week in prelude to today’s National Day after Activists fighting to create the State of Ambazonia threatened to kill anyone who takes part in the event in the two English speaking regions on Cameroon. But some institutions like the Buea national Advance School of Public works has threatened to dismiss any student who will not take part in the parade.
In spite of the curfew and heavy presence of the military, the armed separatists were able to chase out some public officials and close some schools. According to the U.S. ambassador Peter Henry Barlerin, both the government and separatists have committed abuses. Last week, he met with president Paul Biya and urged him to initiate dialogue to lead the way out of violence.