US Baptist missionary killed in Cameroon

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A Christian missionary from Indiana died in Cameroon when he was shot while traveling in a region where the military and separatists are fighting, a family member said.

The US State Department confirmed an American citizen was killed in Cameroon and said it was offering all appropriate consular assistance to the family, but provided no further details.

Charles Wesco, a 44-year-old Baptist missionary, had been in Cameroon for less than two weeks when he was killed, his sister-in-law, Joy Williams, said.

He was shot in north-west Cameroon where the military is fighting English-speaking separatists who want to break away from the predominantly Francophone central government and create an independent state Ambazonia.

The conflict killed hundreds of people since last year and is Cameroon President Paul Biya’s greatest security problem after nearly four decades in power.

Biya won election to a seventh term earlier this month.

The American missionary was travelling with his wife, one of his children and another missionary heading toward Bamenda, when a soldier shot him several times in the head, Williams said by phone.

Aside from Wesco, no one else in the vehicle was hit by gunfire during the ambush, Williams said. The family was unsure if the soldier was with the military or the separatists.

Wesco, who lived in Warsaw, Indiana and belonged to a local Baptist Church was a piano tuner before becoming a missionary, Williams said. He is survived by eight children, she said.

The Wesco family originally planned to move to Cameroon in August but delayed because of the unrest, she said. “They were aware of the danger,” she said.