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Cameroon: 18 hostages freed in Anglophone regions April 2

Military liberates 18 hostages, including foreign nationals, in Southwest and Northwest regions on April 2

TIMEFRAME expected from 4/4/2018, 12:00 AM until 4/7/2018, 11:59 PM (Africa/Douala). COUNTRY/REGION Southwest region, Northwest region

Event

The Ministry of Communication announced in a communiqué released on Wednesday, April 4, that the army had liberated 12 foreign kidnapping victims - five Italians and seven Swiss nationals - in the English-speaking Southwest region of the country on April 2. Additionally, six Cameroonian civil servants were freed during a military operation in the Northwest region, also English-speaking. It remains unclear when the initial abductions took place.

On a related note, on March 26, the French government advised its citizens against nonessential travel to the two Anglophone regions. The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) released an updated advisory a day later, also advising against nonessential travel to the regions. Other Western governments are also currently advising their citizens against travel to major cities within the two regions.

Context

Kidnapping cases are rising in the Anglophone regions. On March 19, Cameroonian security forces launched a military operation to free four hostages held by suspected separatist militants in the Southwest region. One kidnapped Tunisian national was found dead following the raid, while three other hostages - another Tunisian national and two Cameroonians - were freed. On March 17, separatists militants belonging to the Ambazonian Defense Forces (ADF) kidnapped 40 people from a passenger bus in the village of Alou (Southwest region).

Tensions between the English-speaking community and the national authorities in the Northwest and Southwest regions remain high following a wave of violence in recent weeks and months. Simmering resentment dating back to the period of independence has resurfaced within the minority English-speaking community in recent years. The period since November 2016 has been marked by the closure of all English-speaking schools, strikes, unrest, and sporadic violence. Tensions between English- and French-speaking communities have escalated considerably since October 2017, when secessionists unilaterally proclaimed independence in the region.

Advice

Due to ongoing sociopolitical violence, individuals in Southwest and Northwest regions are advised to closely monitor the situation, obey all instructions issued by the local authorities (particularly curfews), and adhere to advice issued by their home government.

On a separate note, some Western governments advise against travel to the Far North Region as well as other areas bordering Nigeria, Chad, and the Central African Republic; travel to these areas should only be considered with appropriate security protocols in place.

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