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Archive photo: a 2018 attack by separatists Archive photo: a 2018 attack by separatists   (AFP or licensors)

Cameroon: Five people dead in roadside explosion

Five people have been confirmed dead and another five wounded in a suspected separatist attack on a convoy in Northwestern Cameroon.

By Vatican News staff writer

At least five people were found dead and five more were wounded on Wednesday after a roadside bomb exploded in Cameroon’s Northwest region.

According to a senior official, four soldiers and a government official were killed after their vehicle hit an improvised explosive device (IED). The vehicle which hit the IED was part of a military convoy which was ambushed by armed secessionists.

Why the Clashes in Cameroon?

In October 2017, militant secessionist groups symbolically proclaimed the independence of a new nation — including the two Anglophone regions — called Ambazonia.

In these four years, clashes between the Cameroon military and separatist fighters have led to over 3,000 deaths and many displaced persons.

Cameroonian refugees at their home in neighbouring Nigeria, July 2018
Cameroonian refugees at their home in neighbouring Nigeria, July 2018

The explosion

The convoy, consisting of five vehicles, was returning from Mbengwi, 450 km away from Cameroon’s capital city of Yaoundé, in Northwest region of the Central African country.

So far, no group or persons has claimed responsibility for the attack; however, Cameroon’s secessionists are suspected, with similarities being drawn to an attack that was recorded in 2019, in which four policemen were killed in Northwest.

Ethno-political conflict

People in Ambazonia, the English speaking part of the country, have often claimed they are being unfairly treated by Paul Biya’s French-centred government. Biya has been Cameroon’s President since 1982.

A map of Cameroon, Ambazonia
A map of Cameroon, Ambazonia

The leader of the secession fighters, Julius Ayuk Tabe, and other members of his group are in Cameroonian prisons where they have been sentenced for life.

However, the group still wields authority, with some of its strongest members leading secessionists. There are also reports of cracks within the ranks of the secessionists, as many are calling for the stripping of the leadership of Ambazonia from Ayuk Tabe.

Pope Francis' appeal for the nation

Pope Francis prayed for Cameroon during his General Audience on 27 October after seven students were killed in an attack on the city of Kumba, in the Anglophone region. 

Protesters are gunmen opened fire at a school in Kumba, October 2020
Protesters are gunmen opened fire at a school in Kumba, October 2020

“I participate in the suffering of the families of the young students barbarically killed last Saturday in Kumba, in Cameroon. I feel great bewilderment at such a cruel and senseless act, which tore the young innocents from life while they were attending lessons at school. 

"May God enlighten hearts, so that similar gestures may never be repeated again and so that the tormented regions of the northwest and southwest of the country may finally find peace. I hope that the weapons will remain silent and that the safety of all and the right of every young person to education and the future can be guaranteed.”

 

 

07 January 2021, 09:51