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Rebels kidnap 30 women in Cameroon

May 23, 2023

The government says insurgents abducted the women for protesting against violence and illegal taxes in the restive anglophone region of the country.

The wreckage of burnt out car is pictured, allegedly destroyed by separatists fighter
Violent clashes erupted in late 2016, after which militants declared an independent state in the Northwest and Southwest regions, home to most of the anglophone minorityImage: Marco Longari/AFP/Getty Images

Separatist rebels kidnapped 30 women in northwestern Cameroon, the government said on Tuesday.

According to officials, the abductions came over protests against illegal taxes imposed on them by the insurgents.

What do we know about the women who were taken?

The women were taken from Babanki, a village near the border with Nigeria, a top official in the area said.

"We have reliable information that 10 of the women, who are basically farmers and merchants, were tortured with guns and machetes," Simon Emil Mooh said.

Mooh said the separatists were collecting monthly payments from children, women and men. They were imposing taxes on couples before they got married, and forcing families to pay $1,000 to bury their relatives.

Separatist leader Capo Daniel told The Associated Press that the women were abducted in the middle of May. He said they were being punished for allowing themselves to be manipulated by Cameroon's government.

Cameroon's restive anglophone region

Cameroon has been plagued by fighting since English-speaking separatists launched a rebellion in 2017.

The dissidents have the stated goal of separating from the area dominated by the French-speaking majority and creating an independent, English-speaking state.

The conflict has claimed more than 6,000 lives and forced more than 1 million people to flee their homes, according to the International Crisis Group (ICG).

In its most recent report, Human Rights Watch (HRW) criticized the government for its clampdown on the separatists, as well as rights abuses committed by the rebels.

jsi/rt (AFP, AP)