Defense ministers from Cameroon and the Central African Republic say they are deploying a joint force to their common border after at least 80 people were taken hostage over the past three months. The two ministers blame rebels fleeing military crackdowns in the CAR for increased crime on the border.
Defense ministers from Cameroon and the CAR say ongoing rebel attacks, rampant theft and abductions for ransom add up to a serious situation for civilians on their countries’ common border.
Several in the area have been abducted for ransom within the past three months. That includes about 80 cattle ranchers, farmers and merchants taken hostage over the past three weeks. Families paid a total of $150,000 to the rebels to secure their relatives’ freedom.
Cameroon and the CAR say their militaries freed another 15 civilians from rebel camps on the border, but many are still held by the rebels.
Adamu Abass said he was freed by military raids on a bush area, where he and several other people were being held hostage.
He saaid rebels attacked his home and abducted three members of his family at about midnight on November 5. He said while in a bush on the border with the CAR, about 17 hostages, including women and children, were being tortured by rebels. Adamu said he told the rebels that he is poor, and it was impossible for him to pay a ransom of about $20,000 to free himself, his wife and daughter.
Adamu spoke on Cameroon state broadcaster CRTV on Friday.
He said three people sustained injuries in a crossfire between Cameroon government troops and rebels.
The CAR said the rebels are escaping unrelenting attacks on their hideouts by troops of the United Nations peacekeeping force in the country, known as MINUSCA.
General Agha Robinson is one of the Cameroonian commanders fighting rebel incursions along the central African state’s northern border.
He said each time Cameroon deploys troops on its side of the border, rebels escape with hostages to the CAR side. He said Cameroon and CAR have agreed to carry out joint military operations to free several dozen civilians who are still held hostage on both sides of the border.
Agha said troops from the two countries will protect merchants, cattle ranchers and farmers who rebels attack to gain supplies.
He said the joint force will also search for and seize weapons the rebels are hiding in border towns and villages.