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Yaounde, Cameroon - Cameroon has arrested five nationals suspected of trafficking in human and animal organs, a local wildlife organisation told AFP on Monday.
“Three youths were arrested on Saturday morning in (the southern town of) Djoum after hiding human organs and elephant parts in a bag on their motor bike,” Eric Kaba Tah, spokesperson for The Last Great Ape Organisation Cameroon (Laga), told AFP.
“Among the human remains there was a skull with hair,” he added.
The trio, who were arrested while travelling in the south of the country, gave the names of two accomplices when interrogated by the police, and these two suspects were arrested on Sunday with help from Laga, the group said.
The investigation, which is still in its early stages, has already shown that the human organs and the elephant parts were to be handed over to “somebody very important in Yaounde”, the country's capital.
“Trafficking in animal species is always linked to other organised crimes but this is the first time that we see a link to human organ trafficking,” said Laga director Ofir Drori.
Mixing elephant meat and human body parts was “shocking”, he added.
In Central Africa, body parts are sometimes used in ceremonies where they are supposed to give special powers and bring success to their new owner.
They often come from dug-up bodies after funerals, but they are also known to come from people killed for such ceremonies.
Laga is the first wildlife law enforcement non-governmental organisation in Africa and works in close co-operation with governments, according to its website. - Sapa-AFP