Sixteen Cameroonians have been kidnapped in northeastern Cameroon in an alleged attack by armed militia from the Central African Republic (CAR), security sources said on Friday.
The attack took place on Thursday night in Gbabio village, near the border with the CAR, and is thought to have been led by rebel chief Abdoulaye Miskine.
“The kidnappers opened fire before driving off in a bus,” a Cameroonian security source told AFP.
All those abducted were residents of the northern Cameroonian city of Lagdo, another security source told AFP, adding that two traditional chiefs and the mayor of Lagdo were among those kidnapped.
“We suspect Miskine’s rebels to have carried out the kidnappings,” the source said.
Abdoulaye Miskine is a former ally of the Seleka rebels, an armed coalition of Islamist groups who seized power in the CAR capital Bangui between March and December 2013. Miskine was arrested last year on the border between Cameroon and the CAR and detained in Cameroon for several months.
In response, his rebel group had captured a Polish priest in western CAR in October 2014, demanding Miskine’s release. The cleric was eventually freed after 44 days in captivity. Shortly afterwards, Miskine was released from his Cameroonian prison and transferred to the Republic of Congo.
Attacks and kidnappings by armed rebel groups soared in the border region in eastern Cameroon after the CAR was plunged into chaos in 2013-2014 because of sectarian fighting.
The region had been relatively stable in recent months.