Boy from Cameroon – GETTY
The Ministry of Defense speaks of “collateral accident” and figures in five civilians killed
MADRID, 17 (EUROPE PRESS)
About thirty people have died in an attack that occurred last Friday in the Northeast region, one of the two Anglophone majority in Cameroon and which is mired in a conflict between armed separatist groups and government forces since 2017.
According to the Voice of America radio station, at least 35 civilians would have died and 40 homes would have been burned in clashes between government forces and separatists within a week. Both parties have accused each other of the death of civilians.
During Sunday's religious services, the various churches in Donga Matung, the department in which the events occurred, reported the death of at least 29 civilians, including women and children, as well as 14 burned houses.
Meanwhile, James Nunan, a head of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), has estimated at least 22 civilians killed, including a pregnant woman and 14 children, including nine children under five .
“The people we have talked to did not expect this and are totally traumatized,” Nunan told the BBC. “Whichever group has done this, it has generated the threat of new violence in the future,” he warned.
The self-proclaimed president of Ambazonia – as the Anglophone separatists call the two regions – Samuel Ikome Sako, has accused the Cameroonian Army of being behind the deaths. As he has stated in messages published on social networks, his combatants have counted at least 40 civilians killed in less than a week.
For his part, the chief of the Cameroonian General Staff, Lieutenant General René Claude Meka, has denied in statements to the state-owned CRTV network that his men have been involved in atrocities and has ensured that the soldiers act professionally and it is the separatists who are behind of the latest events.
THE ARMY SPEAKS OF “DISGRACED ACCIDENT”
In a subsequent statement, the defense minister has denied the “lies” that the Army is behind death, stressing that “it is simply an unfortunate accident, a collateral consequence of the ongoing security operations in the region.”
According to the version offered by the Ministry of Defense, on Friday a group of four soldiers and two gendarmes approached the town of Ngarbu for a “night reconnaissance” and was received with shots. As a result of their response, the troops killed “seven terrorists.”
The fighting continued until the explosion of several fuel containers took place, which unleashed a powerful fire that razed several nearby homes, leading to five deaths – a woman and four children – “away from the balances circulating in networks social”.
After denouncing that the “secessionist terrorist propaganda” has circulated old photos, the Ministry of Defense has ensured that an “in-depth investigation into this unfortunate incident” has been opened by the National Gendarmerie and the Military Security.
THE CRISIS IN THE ENGLISH PART
What began in 2016 as peaceful protests from the inhabitants of these regions, once British colonies but who decided to join French Cameroon, for their alleged marginalization by the central government, resulted in a harsh repression due to the self-proclamation of the independence of Ambazonia on October 1, 2017.
Since then, armed groups have proliferated and support for separatists, hitherto quite marginal, has increased. The Government has responded through harsh repression, during which Human Rights organizations have accused security forces of committing atrocities.
The conflict has already left some 3,000 dead. According to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), there are already 60,000 Cameroonian refugees in Nigeria, while another 679,000 have been displaced within the country.