Cameroon’s military says it has held a senator along with other hostages for a month by separatists.
Cameroon’s military said on Tuesday it had managed to rescue Senator Regina Mundi, whom a spokeswoman called after two days of heavy fighting with rebels who had taken her hostage.
Military spokesman Serge Cyril Atongfak said in a press release that the clashes took place in the Batibo district of Cameroon’s Northwest Region.
Etongfak said separatists tried to avoid advancing government troops with six hostages, including Senator Mundi, on Sunday.
But he said the soldiers stopped the rebels, killed ten of them and captured three of the captives without any harm.
The military did not identify the other hostages, but said they were receiving medical treatment after examination.
Rights groups in Cameroon welcomed Senator Mundi’s release after a month in prison.
Mumah Bih Yvonne of the Women’s Peace Movement led the church’s prayer for Mundi’s release after her abduction in April.
“I hope she is in good health. For those taking Mundi and keeping it for a long time, I pray that your mindset changes. You are inflicting pain and suffering on people. Congratulations to the people who were successful in getting him out.” he said.
A separatist spokesman confirmed that government troops freed Mundi and the other hostages, but denied the military’s claim that the fighters were killed and captured.
Capo Daniele is the deputy chief of defense of the Ambazonia Defense Forces, one of Cameroon’s rebel groups. Separatists have been fighting since 2017 to break away from Cameroon and its French-speaking majority to create an English-speaking state called Ambazonia.
Daniel says the military abused civilians during the weekend raid to free Senator Mundi.
“Hundreds of Cameroonian forces brutally cornered our civilian population, surrounded them, tied their hands behind their backs, tortured women, searched homes, tied up occupants and drove them to city squares. Forced to sit where they were not allowed access to communications. None of our soldiers were killed or captured, we have regrouped and we will ensure that those areas remain under strong Ambazonian control,” he said. Told.
None of Daniels’ claims can be immediately or independently substantiated.
A local, who did not want to be identified for fear of reprisal, told the VOA that during the clashes both sides abused and detained civilians.
The Cameroonian military denies any abuse.
Armed separatists abducted Senator Mundi along with his driver in Bamenda, the capital of the English-speaking North West region, on April 30.
The rebels accused Mundi of cooperating with Cameroon’s central government and demanded that 47 of their arrested leaders be freed in exchange for their release. The government refused.
Esther Njomo is the executive director of Omam Reach Out Cameroon, a group calling for a ceasefire to end the separatist conflict.
“Conflict sides, it is time to talk more among themselves and resolve our differences in a peaceful manner,” she said.
Unrest broke out in the English-speaking western regions of Cameroon in 2016 after teachers and lawyers protested the dominance of French in the officially bilingual country.
The military’s harsh response prompted the separatists to take up arms, saying they would have to defend the minority English speakers.
The UN says at least 3,300 people have been killed and more than 750,000 internally displaced in the conflict between the two sides.