A Cameroon priest who went missing on March 1 has been found dead in an apparent murder. The body of Fr. Olivier Ntsa Ebode was discovered with a knife wound in his thigh, just a day after he was lured out of his house to visit a “sick woman.” Fr. Ebode had been a “respected figure” in his community and was known for his commitment to peace and social justice.
According to the Italian outlet Avvenire, the priest was visited by two men, one of whom was well known to Fr. Ebode. The men requested that Fr. Ebode accompany them to the house of a sick woman in order to offer her the sacraments, and Fr. Ebode did not hesitate to get his things together and take a ride with them.
Little is known about what transpired after they drove away, except that it led to the priest’s demise. Fr. Ebode’s remains were discovered ejected from the vehicle, with a knife wound in his leg. Reports did not note whether his possessions were with him, but it is implied that the priest died from blood loss.
According to Premier Christian News, a 2021 U.S State Department report on religious liberty in Cameroon found most abuses involving religious freedom involve violence associated with a separatist crisis.
“Because religion, ethnicity, and political ideology are closely linked,” it reported, it is “often difficult to determine whether incidents were predominantly motivated by religion.”
Vatican News notes that this is just the most recent atrocity to be committed against Catholics, both the clergy and the laity, in Cameroon, where instability has been on the rise.
Parts of the nation have been plagued with conflicts between government and separatist forces, which have led many to flee. It is estimated that 800,000 people have been displaced by the ongoing conflict, which has also claimed the lives of some 6,000 civilians.