Over 30 abducted women released in Cameroon; some tortured in captivity
Cameroon’s government says more than 30 women abducted by separatist rebels for protesting illegal taxes imposed on them have been released
YAOUNDE, Cameroon — More than 30 women abducted by separatist rebels for protesting illegal taxes imposed on them have been released, the government announced on Friday.
The women were taken earlier this month from Babanki, a farming village in the North West region along the border with Nigeria.
“We have taken the women to hospitals where they are being treated for their injuries and supported psychosocially,” said Simon Emil Mooh, a local government official.
The separatists were collecting monthly payments from children, women and men, imposing taxes on couples before they married and forcing families to pay $1,000 to bury loved ones, he said.
The Central African nation has been embroiled in fighting since English-speaking separatists launched a rebellion in 2017, with the stated aim of breaking away from the region dominated by the French-speaking majority and creating an independent English-speaking state.
The government accused the separatists of committing atrocities against English-speaking civilians. The conflict has killed more than 6,000 people and displaced more than 760,000 others, according to the International Crisis Group.
Some of the freed women told The Associated Press that they had been tortured while in captivity.
“The separatist fighters beat me with their weapons after they stripped me naked,” Vubom Elizabeth told the AP by phone Friday from the hospital where she was being treated. The rebels broke her left leg and arm, she said.
Separatist leader Capo Daniel said the women were released after promising to stop protesting, but warned people would continue to be punished if they continued.
The Governor of Cameroon’s North West Region, Deben Tchoffo, has called for communities to work together to end the atrocities and said the government will do what it takes to protect women from separatist brutality.