After spending the last 16 months in captivity in the Central African Republic (CAR), 11 Cameroonian hostages have finally been freed, according to Reuters.
In a statement to media houses on Sunday, Cameroonian President Paul Biya said 11 hostages, including local Mayor Mama Abakai, were finally free. The President promised to track down the abductors, saying the crime will not go unpunished.
“The Cameroonian hostages were freed today and they are en route to Yaounde,” Governor Gregoire Mvono told Reuters.
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The hostages arrived in Yaounde on Monday.
According to Lagdo Mayor Abakai, twelve of them were captured in April last year when a group of rebels attacked Yokossire and Gbbabio villages in Cameroon.
They were later moved across the border to the bushes of Central African Republic, where Abakai said they were chained at the legs, stomach, and hands and forced to live in deplorable conditions.
Abakai says they were divided into pairs and only allowed to drink one liter of water a day, with toilet privileges given twice a day.
According to Abakai, the captives ate the same meal for the 16 months they were in captivity.
Abakai was grateful to God and the government of Cameroon for saving him and the rest of the hostages.
Two captives died in captivity.
Daouda Abdoulaye said their kidnappers identified themselves as a liberation movement fighting for freedom in CAR and added that they had promised to kill them if the Cameroonian government refused to pay the undisclosed ransom.
Kidnapping for Ransom
The Cameroonian Ministry of Defense said the hostages were released after the government negotiated with the rebels but didn’t disclose the amount paid.
Cameroonian Defense Minister Joseph Beti Assomo said all negotiations were carried out with the blessings of President Biya.
Armed militants from CAR usually cross over in to Cameroon on cattle rustling missions, which they later use to demand for ransom.
The two nations share a 900-km-long territory, with Cameroon currently hosting more than 300,000 refugees from the troubled CAR.