Cameroon’s military has killed at least 30 separatists in two days of intense fighting in the turbulent English-speaking North West region, a military spokesman said yesterday.
The military freed people held by separatists during its two-day operation, military spokesman Col. Didier Badjeck said yesterday. Fighting was intense in the Mayo Binka area near Nkambe, he said.
While no soldiers have been killed, he said the death toll for armed separatists may increase, as fighters escape into the bush. Video
In a separate incident, the mayor of Nwa, a local council in the same region, was found dead yesterday and he is believed to have been killed by separatists, said Emmanuel Bunyui, the mayor of the nearby town of Ndu.
Many mayors in English-speaking regions have been targeted by armed separatists demanding an independent English-speaking state, which they call Ambazonia.
“When we hoist the Cameroon flag in the council premises, we are targeted by the armed men who insist that we should instead display their blue and white flag,” Bunyui said.
These incidents have highlighted the separatist unrest in Cameroon, which began in 2016, when English-speaking teachers and lawyers in the northwest and southwest staged demonstrations calling for reforms, criticizing what they called the marginalization of the Anglophone population, which accounts for about one-fifth of the country’s 25 million people.
Violence increased after factions of separatists armed themselves following a government clampdown on protests in 2017. Armed separatists have vowed to destabilize the regions and hundreds of civilians have been killed and dozens of schools have been burned and teachers threatened.
In the past year, more than 1,200 people including separatists, police, military and gendarmes have been killed in the fighting, according to military spokesman Badjeck.
Recently 79 students and three staff were kidnapped from a school by suspected separatists, and they have all now been released. More than 100 civilians have escaped the violence and fled to the capital, Yaounde.