Archbishop briefly kidnapped in anglophone Cameroon

A 90-year-old archbishop was briefly abducted in a western Cameroon region gripped by conflict between anglophone separatists and security forces, the archdiocese said on Friday.

Christian Tumi, an archbishop emeritus and retired cardinal who has frequently sought to mediate in the crisis, was kidnapped on Thursday evening on a road near Kumbo in the Northwest Region, it said.

He was released on Friday along with his driver, said Samuel Kleda, archbishop of the port city of Douala.

But around 10 other people who were also seized with them have not been freed, a local official who requested anonymity told AFP.

Among those travelling with Tumi was a local leader, Sehm Mbinglo, the traditional chief of the Nso people, the official said.

Local people are negotiating for their release, the source said.

“The cardinal and his driver were released a short time ago. It’s a relief, but it is also terrible to know that a 90-year-old cardinal was taken hostage,” Kleda told AFP.

More than 3,000 people have been killed and more than 700,000 have fled their homes since October 2017, when militants declared independence in two western regions where English speakers are a majority. The declaration has not been recognised internationally.

Rights groups say crimes and abuses have been committed by both separatists and security forces.

The separatists frequently carry out kidnappings, often for ransom, although there have also been killings of abducted security personnel, teachers and civilians accused of collaborating with the authorities. (AFP)