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Rise in kidnapping in northeastern Cameroon leaves residents traumatized

Nearly 300 kidnappings were reported since January. These past three months 60 kidnappings for ransom were recorded in north-eastern Cameroon.   -  
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In the Mbah-Laindé village, in north-eastern Cameroon kidnappers are emptying entire localities.

Touhoulia Elie was miraculously saved. This farmer was abducted while working one morning in his field. His kidnappers then forced him to walk for days to join neighbouring Chad where their rear base is located.

"When they brought me to their camp after days walking, they beat me, wounding me in the head. Some of them smoked and put out their cigarettes on my back", he recalls.

éAnother time, when they drank tea they gave me nothing. On the contrary, they wanted to hang me. They passed a rope around my neck, and pulled me to the ground as one pulls a tree.”

This incident has traumatized the whole community.

"Look at me now, my condition doesn't enable me to go to the field anymore, we are all afraid to go there."

The rising rates of kidnappings have worried the mayor of Touboro, a town located a dozen kilometres away from Mbah-Laindé village. He came to visit Touhoulia Elie and other survivors.

"From January to today, there have been hundreds of kidnappings. And the ransoms that are paid are estimated in millions of CFA Francs, there is no precise figure", Celestin Yandal says.

"The economic fabric of our locality relies on agriculture, livestock, and trade. So, despite all these basic facilities, not everything is possible."

60 kidnapped in 3 months

If the mayor praises the building of a military basis, testimonies mentioning that kidnappers operate from Chad are a source of concern.

"It is a serious matter because former hostages mention a whole group of hundreds of people, who, once they've operated on the Cameroonian side in our villages, retreat to the Chadian side", he concludes.

Even though the harvest period is in full swing many products are rotting in the fields. The economy of Touboro depends on the export of cattle, and farm products to Chad and The Central African Republic.

Kidnappings have disrupted everything. Many wonders who will breathe life back into these dying villages.

Some have suggested that Cameroonian forces be allowed to chase the kidnappers in Chad to put an end to the phenomenon. In these past three months, 60 kidnappings for ransom were recorded.

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