Cameroon arrests dozens of suspected hostage-takers

Killian Ngala

BBC News, Yaoundé

A map showing Cameroon's Adamawa and North regions, and the neighbouring countries of Nigeria, Chad and Central African Republic.

Thirty-three people have been arrested on suspicion of taking hostages and selling contraband goods in Cameroon's North and Adamawa regions.

Motorbikes and illegal drugs were also confiscated in the operation code-named Adano, the military says.

A spokesman said there had been a recent spike in criminal activity in the northern regions' borders with Nigeria and the Central African Republic (CAR) - including trafficking of various forms and customs fraud.

Cameroon's northern regions have become focal points for kidnappers, with cattle breeders there being the main targets.

In 2018 alone, at least 250 people were kidnapped in Adamawa and North regions, several of them killed by their kidnappers, according to the Association for the Promotion of Animal Husbandry in the Sahel and Savannah.

The kidnapping crisis began in 2013 at the height of CAR's civil conflict.

Rebels from CAR and Chad involved in the war, with the complicity of local criminals, began kidnapping cattle breeders and demanding ransoms.

Some $3.6m (£2.8m) has been paid in ransom between 2015 and 2018, according to several breeders' associations.

Cameroon blames separatists for 'barbaric acts'

Mary Harper

Africa editor, BBC World Service

The government of Cameroon has blamed Anglophone separatists for what it describes as "increasing acts of barbarity and horror" against civilians.

This follows the circulation on social media of videos showing the killing of two women in Cameroon's English-speaking regions.

One of them had her throat slit after being accused of being a traitor. The government spokesman said the other woman was killed by a secessionist leader.

More than 3,000 people have been killed and 700,000 displaced since Anglophone rebels announced the self-declared Republic of Ambazonia, accusing the Francophone majority of discrimination.

Cameroon halts logging plans

Killian Ngala

BBC News, Yaoundé

A forest elephant
Education Images
Ebo forest is home to elephants and a species of rare gorilla (file photo)

Plans to allow industrial logging in one of central Africa's last intact forests have been halted, in a move welcomed by environmental campaigners.

Ebo forest in south-western Cameroon is home to 40 Banen communities and numerous endangered wildlife species - including western gorillas, chimpanzees, forest elephants, grey parrots and large frogs.

Experts say forests also play a critical role in the absorption of CO2 from the atmosphere.

On Tuesday Cameroon's government formally announced it was cancelling a previous decree that would have allowed timber extraction across nearly half of the 150,000-hectare forest.

Greenpeace responded on Thursday, saying the suspension of logging operations must be the first step towards protecting the lives of Ebo's residents. It has vowed to keep campaigning, along with its partner Rainforest Rescue.

But a government official told the BBC that the forest will eventually be reclassified either as a logging concession or as a protected forest.

"The present statement will not last long," said Cameroon's Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife Communications Director Jean Robert Onana.

"Classification is a normal procedure and a legal procedure. If we don’t classify this forest, it is subject to poaching or illegal logging."

He added that Cameroon is conscious of the need for environmental conservation, pointing to the fact that 30% of the national territory is under conservation.

Cameroon's Italia 90 World Cup team to get promised houses

Leocadia Bongben

BBC Sport in Yaounde

Roger Milla from Cameroon scores against Colombia 23 June 1990
The Cameroonian team was the first in Africa to reach World Cup quarter-finals

Cameroon's famous side that reached the quarter-finals of the 1990 World Cup in Italy will finally get the houses promised to them by President Paul Biya 30 years ago.

Three of the players, Louis Paul Mfede, Benjamin Massing and Stephen Tataw have already died.

The long wait was because a list of 44 names was submitted, instead of 22 players on the team. A request for just 22 names was made but then the minister in charge changed and the issue was forgotten about.

An association of former Indomitable Lions players, headed by Bertin Ebwelle, revived the matter through a letter to the presidency in June.

The president signed a note giving the go ahead for the houses to the director of housing on Wednesday.

The houses are located in the capital, Yaoundé, the economic hub Douala and the coastal city of Limbe.

Roger Milla, Cameroon’s roving ambassador and one of the oldest players in the squad, has thanked the head of state for the "supreme recognition".

Housing estate in Yaoundé
One of the estates in Yaoundé where the players will be given houses

Tzy Panchak, the singer calling for peace in Cameroon

The artist says any solution to Cameroon’s conflict must be based on love
Killian Ngala talks to Afro Pop artist Tzy Panchak, about fighting between separatist militias and the army in Cameroon’s English-speaking regions. The singer, from the South West Region of Cameroon, is calling for peace, and says the conflict has influenced his music.

(Photo: Cameroonian army soldiers on patrol near Buea, South-West Cameroon, during the 2018 presidential election. Credit: Marco Longari/AFP via Getty Images)

Jihadists 'target sleeping villagers' in Cameroon

Will Ross

Africa editor, BBC World Service

A man riding a bike in Maroua in northern Cameroon, 2020
Boko Haram began its attacks in Cameroon's Far North region in 2014

Suspected Islamist Boko Haram militants have killed 15 sleeping people and wounded six others in a grenade attack in northern Cameroon, reports say.

A security source and a local official told the Reuters news agency that the attackers targeted a camp for displaced people in the village of Nguetchewe, close to the border with Nigeria.

The victims - including women and children - were asleep when the assailants arrived.

Boko Haram has been fighting in north-east Nigeria for over a decade but has also been active in Cameroon, Chad and Niger. A regional military operation has failed to stop the attacks.

Donkey cart attack

Meanwhile, in northern Burkina Faso at least six people, most of them children, have been killed after a donkey cart ran over an improvised explosive device (IED) in a region which has seen many jihadist attacks.

A security source told a French news agency that four other people were injured and had been taken to a hospital in the nearby Ouahigouya town.

The victims were returning from grazing with their animals.

Since 2015 Burkina Faso has seen an upsurge in Islamist violence – spreading from Mali - and more than 1,000 people have been killed and a million have fled their homes.

Map of countries in West Africa affected by jihadist violence

Cameroon's Italia '90 captain Tataw dies

Njie Enow


Stephen Eta Tataw
Getty Images
Stephen Eta Tataw was in every minute of every game that Cameroon played at the 1990 World Cup finals

Stephen Eta Tataw, the captain of Cameroon's national football team during their famous run to the quarter-finals in the 1990 World Cup, has died at the age of 57.

The right-back was also the Indomitable Lions' captain at USA '94.

He played every minute of his side's five games at the 1990 World Cup, when they beat Argentina, Romania and Colombia en route to their quarter-final defeat to England in extra time.

Tataw played most of his club career in his home country with Tonnerre Yaoundé and Olympique Mvolyé, but ended it in Japan with Tosu Futures.

After the 1990 World Cup he had trials with English top-flight side Queens Park Rangers, later recalling that he was told by manager Don Howe that he was excellent, but the squad was "full up".

The cause of death has not been made public.