A Bible translator in Cameroon was butchered to death on Sunday morning during an overnight attack while his wife’s arm was cut off, according to a ministry source.
Bible translator Angus Abraham Fung was among seven people said to have been killed during an attack carried out by suspected Fulani herdsmen sometime during the early hours of Sunday morning in the town of Wum, according to Efi Tembon, who leads a ministry called Oasis Network for Community Transformation.
Located in Cameroon’s violence-ridden Anglophone region where separatists are fighting for independence, Wum is among several localities where youth from the nomadic Fulani herding community are being encouraged by government actors to carry out attacks against local farming communities that support the separatist rebels, Tembon said.
Tembon, who at times worked on projects in Wum before he was forced to flee the country after speaking to the U.S. Congress about the conflict in June 2018, said he was told by sources in the town that Fulani herders stormed five homes Saturday night into Sunday morning.
“They went into houses and pulled out the people,” Tembon explained to The Christian Post. “They attacked in the night and nobody was expecting. They just went into the home, pulled them out and slaughtered them.”
Tembon said that he was not informed as to how many people were injured in the attack, but only that Fung’s wife, Eveline Fung, had her arm cut off and is receiving a blood transfusion at a local hospital.
As for the Bible translator, Tembon was told that Fung was cut to death with a machete.
“I don’t know what prompted the attack. They just came in and killed people at the home,” Tembon added, stating that most of the victims were older men.
Fung was in his 60s and served for years with the Aghem Bible translation project in Cameroon, working on a New Testament translation in the Aghem language, which was completed in 2016.
“He was one of the key community leaders in the whole tribe and he was part of the translation services and also coordinated literacy efforts,” Tembon explained. “So, he was a huge part of the literacy work because their language had never been written before. So, he was the one coordinating it and teaching the language. So many people now can read and write the language as a result of Angus’ work.”
Although the New Testament translation for the Aghem language was completed and over 3,000 copies have been published, Tembon said that distribution has not happened because of the war in the region.
“This war is a complete disruption of what has been going on,” Tembon stated. “We haven’t been able to dedicate it because of the war. We are doing what we call listening groups. We have done the recording and started listening groups where people come and listen to scriptures together in the community.”
According to Tembon, Wum is a rural town of no more than 5,000 people. About 90 percent of the town’s people consider themselves to be Christian but also practice traditional religions. While the local people live and farm in the town, Muslim Fulani herders live and graze their cattle on a hill outside the town.
But because the area is controlled by separatists, he claimed the government has encouraged and even armed Fulani to carry out attacks against the separatist-supporting communities as a way of pushing a “religious twist” to the conflict.
“The government knows that the local people are supporting the local forces,” he explained. “The Fulani are Muslim and they are a minority in the area. And they always have a farmer-grazer problem between the local people and the Fulani. The government uses that now to get the Fulani on their side as an ally to fight the local people. So they have been armed and protected by the government and terrorize the local people.”
Tembon noted that not all Fulanis are a party to such attacks, adding that some Fulani have even joined the separatist rebels and some Fulani live in the town with the rest of the local community.
Tembon stressed that Sunday’s attack is not the first to have happened in Wum. In June, villagers in Wum were reportedly attacked and several homes were burned down, including the palace of the local chief.
“They have burned churches and have killed people in several areas,” he said. “The local people have killed their cows as revenge.”
In May, Pastor Keloh Elijah, a graduate of Cameroon Baptist Theological Seminary in Ndu and served at Bitu Baptist Church, was reported to have been among many people killed during a military invasion in the Mfumte area.
“Many other people were killed in the area,” Tembon said at the time. “The military has search and lotted homes and burnt down several houses.”
The Anglophone conflict began in 2016 as separatists began protesting for autonomy because they felt underrepresented in the majority-French-speaking central government. Since then, tens of thousands of people have fled from their homes as a result of the violence.
As many as 50,000 people have fled from Cameroon in Nigeria, Ghana, and other neighboring countries while as many 700,000 are internally displaced, according to Tembon.
“The international community puts the number of those killed at 2,000. But I believe they are intentionally keeping the numbers low so as not to be accused of looking away,” he contended. “Personally, I do think the number of those killed cannot be lower than 7,000 people during the last three years.”
A previous version of this article said Tembon spoke to Congress in 2016. It was 2018. It also reported that Fung worked with Wycliffe Bible Translators. He did not work with Wycliffe Bible Translators, but he did work with the Aghem Bible translation project in Cameroon.