Over 30 People Reportedly Abducted by Criminals in Northern Cameroon
© AFP 2023 REINNIER KAZEMembers of the Cameroonian Rapid Intervention Force patrol on the outskirt of Mosogo in the far north region of the country where Boko Haram jihadist have been active since 2013, on March 21, 2019.
© AFP 2023 REINNIER KAZE
Cameroon is currently confronting various security challenges, notably an incursion by the Islamist organization Boko Haram* in its northernmost region, and a separatist tensions in its English-speaking west. There are frequent reports of criminals committing attacks on civilians and educational institutions, abducting women and children.
Over 30 people, possibly including students from neighboring Chad, have been abducted by suspected bandits in northern Cameroon, Celestin Yandal, the mayor of the town of Touboro, told media on Monday.
According to the report, the kidnapping occurred on Sunday evening. A Cameroonian security source confirmed the incident but did not provide any details. Given the frequency of such incidents in the area, the mayor said, it is believed to be a case of kidnapping for ransom rather than a militant attack.
"The kidnappers struck in the evening as traders returned from the traditional Touboro cattle market day. Those kidnapped have not yet been released," mayor Yandal is quoted as saying.
The mayor said he is unsure about the identity of the victims, but suspects that Chadian students may be among them. Students from Chad typically travel through Touboro to reach Ngaoundere, where a university is located.
Citing anonymous sources, a Chadian media outlet reported that 25 Chadian students were abducted on their way to Ngaoundere, the capital of the Adamawa Region of Cameroon, on Sunday. It was later reported that six of them had been released.
Since 2013, communities in Cameroon's Far North Region have endured assaults by the notorious extremist organization Boko Haram. But other criminal gangs, in addition to Boko Haram, are also increasingly abducting people. The trend has persisted for over a decade, and has worsened in the past four years.
The attacks frequently happen at night, with armed groups of four to 10 individuals forcefully entering households and firing warning shots to intimidate inhabitants. Multiple victims are transported across the border to Nigeria, Chad, and the Central African Republic, or held in hideouts located in Cameroon.
* Boko Haram is a terrorist organization outlawed in Russia and many other countries.