The crisis afflicting western Cameroon's English-speaking communities has deepened, with observers mindful of repercussions not only for the country’s onshore oilpatch but across the border in Nigeria, where 40,000 people have reportedly sought refuge.

Last week, the body of a Tunisian engineer working for construction firm Soroubat was found near Kumba in Southwest Province after the military rescued a compatriot and two Cameroonian technicians kidnapped by separatists, the government believes.

If, as alleged, the militant Ambazonian Defence Force (ADF) was responsible, this latest incident will exacerbate fears of a political meltdown in a region already dotted with ghost towns — fields of ripe cocoa beans are left unattended while teachers and lawyers remain on strike.