Wed, 19 Dec 2018
8
London

A professor and staff member of the University of Buea in troubled western Cameroon have been kidnapped, a statement received by AFP on Sunday said.

Charles Doumta, on the Health Sciences faculty, and George Ongey, who works for the research and cooperation office, were seized on Friday and November 10, respectively, the statement said without elaborating.

"These acts are meant to intimidate, create fear and panic among staff and students and disrupt the smooth functioning of the academic year," Vice Chancellor Ngomo Horace Manga was quoted as saying in the statement, issued on Saturday.

The 12 000-student university is a historic centre of English-based learning in Cameroon, whose minority anglophone population is concentrated in the two western regions of Northwest and Southwest.

A crisis erupted in 2016 over perceived discrimination at the hands of the francophone majority in areas such as education, the justice system and the economy of the West African country.

Last year it developed into an armed conflict, with radicals declaring an independent state, the Republic of Ambazonia, which is not recognised internationally.

They have attacked troops and police and torched other symbols of the central government in the former German colony, which was divided between Britain and France after World War I.

Almost daily clashes now occur between security forces and separatists, who have organised themselves into scattered groups in the region's dense tropical forests.

Early this month, armed men believed to be separatists abducted 90 students in Northwest Region, later freeing them in circumstances that remain unclear.

Armed gangs are also operating in the troubled regions, taking advantage of the conflict to demand protection money from businesses and individuals.

More than 200 troops and more than 500 civilians have died in regional fighting, according to non-governmental organisations.

The conflict has also already displaced more than 437 000 people, UN data released in October showed.

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