Suspected separatists in a restive English-speaking region of Cameroon have killed four more soldiers as violence continues to plague government efforts for reaching a settlement with the secessionists.
Army and government sources said Wednesday that the four soldiers were “murdered” in Mamfe, a city in Cameroon’s Southwest Region, by those who promote “terrorism.”
“Four soldiers were killed around 2:00 am around Mamfe,” said an army source angrily, adding, “They murdered our soldiers. If that’s not terrorism, what is it?”
A government source also confirmed the deaths although there was no more information on how the soldiers were killed.
The deaths are the latest to hit the ranks of Cameroon’s security forces as they struggle to contain a growing insurgency in the Southwest and Northwest regions, where a large minority English-speaking people lives. Calls for secession have escalated in recent years as the community members lament about more discrimination and their leaders say the government has repeatedly ignored their political demands.
International monitors say up to 40 people have been killed since violence erupted in the two regions in late September. The government puts the death toll on a maximum of 12 while maintaining that eight members of security forces have been killed this month alone.
The central government in Yaounde has rejected calls for secession or a return to Cameroon’s previous federal system of governance. It has tried to reach out to key separatist leaders for political dialogue although nighttime curfews, restrictions on movement, raids and body searches remain in place in the anglophone regions.
The anglophone community comprise a fifth of the francophone-dominated Cameroon of 22 million people. Its presence is rooted in the colonial past of West Africa and in a decision by France and Britain after the World War I to divide Cameroon, a then German colony, under the mandates of the League of Nations.