The Catholic Church announced on Sunday that seven people, including five priests, a nun, and two churchgoers, were abducted by attackers who set fire to the St. Mary's Catholic Church in western Cameroon.
This is the latest act of violence in an area that has been hit by bloody conflict between anglophone separatists and the state.
According to the Bamenda Provincial Episcopal Conference (BAPEC), the incident that took place on Friday resulted in the church of St. Mary in the village of Nchang being set on fire by unknown armed people.
Attack of St. Mary's Catholic Church in Cameroon
There has been no claim of responsibility for the attack as of yet; nevertheless, these kinds of incidents are frequently carried out by separatist organizations and frequently result in the freeing of hostages following ransom demands or negotiations with local officials, as reported by Alarabiya News.
Anglophone separatists and the Cameroonian government have been engaged in a deadly battle in the NorthWest and SouthWest areas of Cameroon for several years. Cameroon is primarily a French-speaking country, however there are areas in the country where a majority of the population speaks English.
Since 1982, President Paul Biya has ruled the country with an iron grip. Anglophones' anger at what they saw as discrimination eventually snowballed into the declaration of an independent state in 2017, which they called the "Federal Republic of Ambazonia.
According to the statement released by the Bamenda Provincial Episcopal Conference, the Bishops were shocked and appalled to learn that unknown gunmen had burned down St. Mary's Catholic Church in Nchang and abducted five priests, one religious sister, and two lay believers.
It added that nothing like this had ever happened before, and that no one knew of a good cause for attacking a house of worship and messengers of God.
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Expressing Solidarity, Prayerful Wishes
Meanwhile, during this difficult time, the members of BAPEC would like to extend their support and prayers to the Local Ordinary of Mamfe Diocese, Bishop Aloysius Fondong Abangalo, the Clergy, women and men Religious, the Laity of the Cameroonian Episcopal See, and most importantly, the Christians of St. Mary's Parish Nchang.
According to ACIAfrica, in a video that has been circulated on various social media platforms, Bishop Abangalo can be seen stating that they have moved the crucifix and the Blessed Sacrament to the Bishops' House.
A statement was also made by the bishop indicating that what has occurred is an abomination.
He even issued a summons to all of the people of God in the Mamfe Diocese, asking them to say a Rosary of reparation every day throughout the month of October for this act of wickedness that had been committed in their land.
He further stated that in relation to the individuals who carried out the attack on the Catholic Parish in his Episcopal See, should be aware of the fact that they are children of God and that the Lord is willing to forgive them for their actions.
Bishop Abangalo stated in the video that those who were kidnapped during the arson assault on September 16 have not committed any crime.
For the abductees who have any concerns, they should discuss it, and they should not be destroying property, harassing people, or killing individuals, said the Bishop, according to the video.
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