Over 30 people kidnapped by highway criminals in north Cameroon

YAOUNDE (Reuters) – Over 30 people, likely including students from neighbouring Chad, have been kidnapped by suspected bandits in northern Cameroon, the mayor of the local town of Touboro said on Monday.

The kidnapping took place on Sunday evening, mayor Celestin Yandal told Reuters. A Cameroonian security source confirmed the incident without giving details and said it was believed to be kidnapping for ransom, which is common in the area, rather than a militant attack.

Cameroon is facing multiple security crises including an insurgency by Islamist group Boko Haram in its Far North region, and a separatist conflict in its English-speaking west.

“The kidnappers struck in the evening as traders returned from the traditional Touboro cattle market day. Those kidnapped have not yet been released,” said mayor Yandal.

He did not know the identity of the victims but said it was probable that Chadian students were among them. Students from Chad take the road through Touboro to get to the city of Ngaoundere, where there is a university.

A local Chadian news site, Toumaï Web Médias, cited unidentified sources as saying that 25 Chadian students were kidnapped on their way to Ngaoundere on Sunday, and that six had been released.

The Chadian embassy in Cameroon did not respond to a request for comment.

(Reporting by Amindeh Blaise Atabong Additional reporting by Mahamat Ramadane in N’Djamena; Writing by Nellie Peyton; Editing by Mark Potter)