A senator from President Paul Biya’s ruling party and her driver were kidnapped in Cameroun’s troubled Anglophone northwest on Monday, military and administrative sources said.
“Elizabeth Regina Mundi was kidnapped late Saturday morning by terrorists in Bamenda,” the northwest’s capital, according to a senior official with the region’s governor.
He claimed that two wings of the separatist Ambazonian Defence Forces (ADF) were responsible for the kidnapping. After independence, the rebels intend to establish Ambazonia as a republic.
One demanded the release of some of its detainees, while the other demanded a ransom, he added, requesting anonymity.
A video posted on social media and confirmed by a senior regional official shows Regina Mundi clearly forced to read a statement in English calling for the Ambazonia republic’s independence.
She is from the northwest and a member of Biya’s Cameroon People’s Democratic Movement’s politburo (RDPC).
The “Ambazonians” kidnap and kill civil servants on a regular basis. Church leaders and politicians have also been imprisoned, but most have been released.
The bullet-riddled body of opposition senator and lawyer Henry Kemende was discovered in Bamenda in January.
The authorities blamed the separatists for his death, but no one took responsibility.
Cameroon’s northwest and southwest are primarily populated by the country’s anglophone minority, despite the fact that the country is predominantly French-speaking.
For nearly 40 years, 89-year-old Biya has ruled the country with an iron fist, cracking down on the rebellion.
Armed separatists and the military have clashed numerous times in the last five years, following the repression of peaceful demonstrations accusing Yaounde of ostracizing English speakers.
According to international NGOs and the UN, both sides have committed abuses against civilians.
The conflict has killed over 6,000 people and displaced over a million.