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Johannesburg – Forty people, including a government official, have been kidnapped in Cameroon’s troubled secessionist English speaking regions.

The weekend abductions occurred as the first English speaking Cameroonian to be appointed minister of territorial administration, Paul Atanga Nji, was visiting English speaking towns in north-western Cameroon in an effort to find solutions to the separatist crisis.

One of those kidnapped, Cameroon businessman Angelbert Etoga, was able to return home to Youande, 24 hours after he was abducted following his release by the armed separatists.

Etoga reported that the bus in which he and approximately 36 other people were travelling to Lebialem in south-western Cameroon to attend a political rally was attacked by armed men who subsequently seized the vehicle.

The abductees were detained for several hours before some were asked to leave after being told they had to respect the territorial integrity of the English speaking regions of Cameroon, which the kidnappers said was now a state called Ambazonia.

The separatists are demanding the release of 47 political detainees, who have not been seen in public, in return for the freeing of those kidnapped.

The West African country has been wracked by violence which began last year during peaceful protests by English speaking citizens demanding equal treatment from the Francophone government.

A subsequent government crackdown on protesters by security forces led to the deaths of protesters and revenge killings of security force members by separatists.

African News Agency/ANA