The Archbishop of Douala, Cardinal Christian Tumi, was released on Friday, November 6, a day after being kidnapped by suspected anglophone separatists in the Babessi area of the North West Region. The archbishop had reportedly been accompanying a local traditional Nso leader on a journey from Bamenda and Kumbo on Thursday afternoon, November 5, when their vehicle was ambushed near Babessi at around 18:00 (local time). The kidnapping prompted an angry response from members of the local community, who staged a march from Babessi to a suspected rebel camp near Kumbo on Friday morning to demand the cardinal's release. The archbishop was subsequently released by the abductors but the location of the traditional leader, known as the Fon of Nso, remains unclear.
Security operations are likely in the Babessi area and around Kumbo in the near term following the kidnappings. Further demonstrations by members of the local community to demand the release of the Fon are also possible in the near term.
Tensions between Cameroon's minority English-speaking community and the national authorities remain high in the Northwest and Southwest regions, where a separatist movement has transformed into a low-level armed insurgency. The situation has deteriorated considerably since September 2017, when secessionists unilaterally proclaimed independence in the region. The United Nations estimates that at least 50,000 Cameroonians have fled the fighting to Nigeria since the beginning of the conflict, with more than 675,000 others believed to have been internally displaced.
Those in Cameroon's Anglophone region are advised to maintain a heightened level of vigilance due to the high risk of violence between separatists and the government forces. Monitor local media for the latest updates on the security situation and adhere to any directives issued by local authorities or security forces, including curfews.
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