A Roman Catholic bishop whose body was found in a river in central Cameroon early this month was “brutally murdered” and did not commit suicide, his peers said in a statement.

“We, bishops of Cameroon, affirm that Monsignor Jean Marie Benoit Bala did not commit suicide; he was brutally assassinated,” the church leaders said in a statement obtained Wednesday by AFP.

They said after meeting to discuss “the heinous and unbearable crime” that the bishop’s death was “yet another murder, a murder too many.”

The body of the 58-year-old bishop of Bafia, in the centre of the country, was fished out of the Sanaga river on June 2, more than 48 hours after he was reported missing.

His car had been found on a bridge over the river on May 31, with his identity papers and a written note found on the front seat, saying “I am in the water”.

The murders of several Cameroonian priests have gone unsolved in the past, the bishops said, including those of Yves Plumey, archbishop emeritus of Garoua in 1991, Joseph Mbassi in Yaounde in 1988, Antony Fontegh in Kumbo in 1990 and Engelbert Mveng in Yaounde in 1995.

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