Security forces in Cameroon have shot dead three attackers in a town at the Cameroon-Anglophone border, a senior police official said Sunday.
Cameroonian troops in the town of Bamenda and those on the border with the English-speaking Northwest and Southwest regions had been patrolling the streets in response to an incursion by armed separatist militias, Lt. Colonel Didier Badjeck, the deputy commandant of Cameroon’s air force, told the Associated Press.
Badjeck said the three attackers were slain on Saturday after police pursued them across the border into the Cameroons that are situated on the Anglophone part of the mainland, bordering Nigeria.
“They were shot dead on the Nigerian side,” Badjeck said.
The security forces reportedly fired warning shots in the air before they fired live rounds.
Just days ago the security forces came under attack from the armed separatists who attacked the town of Bamenda, kidnapping 19 people who were later released unharmed. Earlier the group had set fire to a government office in the town.
“Some senior ministers left the Anglophone regions because of the worsening security situation,” said United Nations Human Rights Commissioner Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein. “I think it’s also with good reason and consequence that the government has talked about dialogue, that it’s placed security and stability high on its agenda.”
The separatist movement has been gaining support in the north-central part of the country, particularly among youths, because most of them can’t learn the French language and find it difficult to find work. The “People’s Movement for the Liberation of Cameroon” emerged as a civil society group a few years ago and later kicked off its armed rebellion in late 2016.
The movement, which wants to maintain the use of the French language in Cameroon, has claimed to have launched three military operations, the last one in November last year. Its leaders include prominent Anglophone musicians like Vaz, Bolaji and Roger Milla.
The French-speaking government has remained firm in its rejection of the calls for secession by the National Ambazonia Anglophone Republic and has placed several separatist leaders under investigation for criminal activity.
French President Emmanuel Macron said this week that he would continue his country’s relations with Cameroon, hoping that the European country will remain committed to the unity of the landlocked West African country.