27 Chinese among hostages freed in Cameroon
Updated: 2014-10-12 11:38
Chinese hostages, who were released to the Cameroonian authorities after being kidnapped in raids blamed on the Nigerian Islamist group Boko Haram, arrive in Yaounde on October 11, 2014. [Photo/CFP]
Twenty-seven Chinese and local ex-hostages arrived in the Cameroon capital on Saturday morning to a tearful yet joyful welcome, months after their kidnappings by suspected Boko Haram militants.
The ex-hostages, including ten Chinese workers and the wife of Cameroonian Deputy Prime Minister Amadou Ali, arrived at Yaounde Airport onboard a plane chartered by the Cameroonian government to fly them from northern Cameroon, where they were reportedly released on midnight Friday.
Chinese Ambassador Wo Ruidi, together with senior Cameroonian government officials, received the ex-hostages at the airport, who appeared physically diminished, in particular the Chinese workers.
The Chinese workers were found missing and believed to be taken by the Nigerian Islamist rebels on May 16 after an attack at a Chinese work site in Waza in Cameroon's Far North region.
A preliminary medical checkup showed the workers were in "stable" conditions, said Chinese embassy officials.
The Chinese ambassador expressed gratitude for the efforts made by relevant parties to secure the release of the Chinese hostages.
Among the newly released were the deputy prime minister's wife, a local leader of Kolofata, a northern Cameroonian town bordering Nigeria, and their family members, who were kidnapped on July 27 in Kolofata, by Boko Harm militants who have mounted attacks through repeated incursions into Cameroon.
Immediately after their arrival, the ex-hostages, who were received with tear and joy in the presence of their families, governments officials and diplomats at the airport under tight security, were hurried to a hospital in Yaounde for medical treatment.
Cameroon's Communication Minister Issa Tchiroma Bakary told journalists that the "safe and sound" return of the hostages has shown the "efficiency" of the authorities in offering a helping hand to those in difficulty, no matter whether they are Cameroonians or foreigners.
Bakary disclosed that Ferdinand Ngoh Ngoh, chief of staff of the Cameroonian presidency, had gone to the Far North region in order to directly tackle the hostage situation.
Since August, Cameroon has strengthened military operations in the Far North Region, near the border with Nigeria, to fight against Boko Haram militants, who have attempted to seize some remote areas.
Boko Haram, which has killed thousands of people, seeks to enshrine the Islamic Sharia law in the Nigerian constitution.