No fewer than 7 people were killed in Cameroon’s restive anglophone belt at the weekend as a separatist group made a symbolic declaration of independence.
The separatists chose October 1, the anniversary of the official reunification of the anglophone and francophone parts of Cameroon, to declare independence for “Ambazonia”, the name of the state they want to create.
Since November, the anglophone minority has been protesting against perceived discrimination.
The government deployed security forces at the weekend in English-speaking regions, notably Buea in the southwest and Bamenda, the main town in the northwest and a hub of anglophone agitation. Read also: Las Vegas shooting, ‘senseless tragedy’–Pope Francis
Several people were admitted to hospital in Bamenda Sunday after clashes between demonstrators and police, according to a medical source.
“At least one person was injured by live fire” in Bamenda, where the situation was “very tense”, a source close to the local authorities told AFP.
The “security forces had to resort to tear gas and sometimes to shots to disperse the protesters”, the source said by telephone.
Bamenda residents contacted by AFP reported “shooting” by the security forces without giving further details.
One of the leaders of the opposition Social Democratic Front (SDF), Joshua Osih, told AFP the security forces were “firing real bullets at the protesters” but stressed that he was not a supporter of the secessionist movement. Read also: Germans record first gay marriage… Read details
City mayor, Donatus Njong said: In Ndop, 40 kilometres (25 miles) from Bamenda, two people were “shot dead”, while one was killed in Kumbo on the sidelines of the protests.
Also in Kumbo, three prison inmates were shot and killed trying to escape while security forces were mobilized for the deployments in anglophone regions, a source close to regional authorities said.
A young man was shot dead by security forces on Saturday in the southwest town of Kumba, known as a rebellious city since the start of the protests, sparking clashes between security forces and the local population.
A nurse who requested anonymity added that, “they fired at him during a security operation,” the incident was confirmed by a security source and several local residents contacted by phone.
Cameroon’s long-serving president, 84-year-old Paul Biya, took to social media Sunday to condemn “all acts of violence, no matter where they come from or who is responsible.” Read also: JUST IN: Trump set for national broadcast on Las Vegas massacre
The European Union called on all sides to be responsible and “respect the rule of law and avoid any act of violence.”
However, the crisis provoked by the protests, which was exacerbated at the start of 2017 when internet access was cut for three months, has intensified in recent weeks with the push to symbolically proclaim independence of the English-speaking regions.
On September 22, “between 30 and 80,000” people demonstrated across Cameroon’s anglophone regions, according to estimates by the International Crisis Group (ICG).
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