YAOUNDE, Cameroon (AP) — Fighters from Central African Republic have kidnapped 16 people from a Cameroonian border town, including local politicians and clergy, a local governor said Saturday.
On Thursday night, 30 heavily armed fighters seized a bus in Babio, just miles (kilometers) from the border, that was carrying people returning from a burial, said Gov. Samuel Dieudonne Ivaha Diboua. The assailants drove the bus back into Central African Republic, which has been wracked by violence for more than a year.
Ivaha Diboua said no one had claimed responsibility for the kidnappings, but it is suspected they have been carried out by rebels from the Democratic Front of the Central African People. Their leader is in jail in Cameroon and fighters from the group kidnapped several Cameroonians and a Polish priest last year in a bid to win his release.
The rebels were once linked with Seleka, a coalition of mostly Muslim armed groups that toppled Central African Republic's president in 2013. Widespread human rights abuses committed by Seleka gave rise to Christian militias, unleashing sectarian violence that has driven nearly 1 million people from their homes. A mix of U.N. peacekeepers, French forces and a European Union military operation has tried to calm the violence.