Former top judge kidnapped in Cameroon

English-speaking separatists in Cameroon have kidnapped a former top judge, AFP news agency reports.

Martin Mbeng was kidnapped on Sunday morning, marking a fresh escalation in the troubled region.

“Mbeng is in the hands of the supporters of secession,” AFP quotes lawyer Agbor Nkongho, a friend of the judge and head of a campaign group called the Centre for Human Rights and Democracy in Africa.

“We condemned this act and asked for him to be released, especially as Mr. Mbeng does not engage in any political activity and he is not a supporter of the government,” he added.

There has however been no claim for the kidnapping a day later, and the authorities have made no reference to it.

Cameroon’s Anglophone regions have been hit by violent protests since early 2017, sparked by claims of government bias.

Scores of civilians were killed in a crackdown by the authorities on the protests, with several hundreds injured.

Kidnappings have since become a common weapon used by the separatists.

A deputy prefect and a civil servant were abducted in February in the Northwest Region. Last Wednesday, the government said 12 European tourists were taken hostage “by a band of armed terrorists” while on a sightseeing tour in the Southwest Region before being rescued by troops.