Tension persists in Anglophone Cameroon

Cameroon's Communication minister and government spokesman Issa Tchiroma Bakary (centre). FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

Tension remained high in Northwest Cameroon on Thursday following the Tuesday killing of two security officers and a civilian in a flare-up.

The deaths occurred during clashes between the security forces and the local Anglophone residents, who are pushing for secession over alleged marginalisation by the Francophone government.

Communication minister and government spokesperson Issa Tchiroma Bakary said the attack on the security forces in Bamenda town, the epicentre of the socio-political unrest that has rocked the two English speaking regions, was carried out by secessionists who used “combat weapons”.

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The Tuesday attack happened barely a day after another security officer was killed at Jakiri, about 91km east of Bamenda.

Mr Bakary said the officer was pursuing some assailants who had attacked a local school.

“A group of about 10 individuals armed with slingshots and machetes attacked the Government Technical High School of Jakiri and it was in an attempt to arrest them that the gendarme was attacked and shot dead by the assailant,” Mr Bakary said.

The latest clashes mark an escalation of the crisis that started last year with a lawyers' and teachers' work boycott.

Second-class citizens

Anglophone separatists, pushing for independence of English speakers and creation of the state of Ambazonia, have maintained that schools in the Northwest and Southwest must remain closed as part of the protests.

Many schools, shops and private homes in the two regions have been burnt down in recent weeks, in attacks usually attributed to separatists.

Cameroon’s Anglophones have held grudges against their Francophone brothers for duping them in a post-independence reunification deal, where they expected to be equal partners.

They often complain of being treated as second-class citizens.

The crisis reached a new low earlier this month, when over 20 people were shot dead by security forces, tens of others were injured and over 500 more detained, according to Amnesty International.

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The government puts the number of the dead at between 10 and 12.

At least 5,000 Anglophone Cameroonians have fled the crisis for neighbouring Nigeria, according to the UN Refugee Agency.

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