American missionary killed in Cameroon
Family members of an American missionary in northwestern Cameroon confirmed he died Tuesday after being caught in crossfire between security forces and separatists amid ongoing post-election violence in the country. Indiana native Charles Wesco arrived in the city of Bamenda less than two weeks ago with his wife, Stephanie, and their eight children.
Dave Halyman, assistant pastor at Believers Baptist Church in Warsaw, Ind., where Stephanie Wesco’s father, Don Williams, serves as senior pastor, said the missionary was in the front seat of a car in Bamenda when two bullets broke through the windshield and struck his head. Wesco’s sister-in-law Joy Williams told Reuters that Stephanie Wesco, one of the couple’s children, and another missionary were all in the car and survived without injury.
Wesco spent the past two years raising funds for the missions work. “He cared for the people of the world and he was willing to risk his life to go to them,” his father, Virgil Wesco, told a local television station. His brother, Indiana state Rep. Tim Wesco, also confirmed his death.
In the wake of the death, Cameroon Defense Minister Joseph Beti Assomo on Wednessday warned foreign nationals to be cautious and avoid traveling in the country’s more dangerous areas. The northwestern region is the center of clashes between security forces and English-speaking separatists who complain of marginalization and demand an independent state. The unrest intensified last week after the Constitutional Council announced President Paul Biya had won his seventh term in office. Cameroonian military spokesman Col. Didier Badjeck said the officials killed at least four suspects in Wesco’s death and arrested many others.
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