Cameroon’s army said on Monday that it was continuing to search for a local official after separatists in a restive English-speaking region claimed to have captured him.
Namata Diteng, the deputy head of the anglophone Batibo district, has been missing since Sunday, when his burnt-out car was found in an isolated area.
He had been meant to preside over local festivities for Cameroon Youth Day, a controversial day in the country’s two anglophone regions — in the northwest and southwest
The leader of an anglophone separatist movement, Ayaba Lucas Cho, said on social media Sunday that his group had captured Diteng. There were numerous appeals by separatists online to “kill the prisoner” of the “colonial army”.
Army spokesman Colonel Didier Badjeck told AFP that Cameroon forces were continuing their search for Diteng on Monday night.
Badjeck also dismissed as “fake news” a picture of a dead man circulating online that some separatists claimed was Diteng.
Cameroon forces killed 23 assailants on Sunday in the southwestern village of Kembong, Badjeck said, in an attack in which three soldiers also died.
Badjeck said there was another separatist attack on a police station in Ekok, in the southwest of the country near the border with Nigeria, on Sunday night.
Members of the Cameroonian army and the Rapid Intervention Battalion (BIR) “routed the attackers”, he said, adding that “15 terrorists” were arrested in the area on Monday.
Anglophones in the country have long complained that they face discrimination, saying that they are excluded from state jobs as a result of their limited French language skills.
They also complain that official documents are often only published in French, even though English is also an official language. There are issues in the judicial sector as well.
The country’s legal system is largely based on French civil law, but English-speaking regions still operate under the English common law.
Anglophone Cameroonians believe that only a complete overhaul of the administrative departments in the country and an inclusive federal constitution can end their woes. Cameroon had adopted a federal government system in the 1960s but this system was later dropped after a referendum.
(Source: Daily Mail)