Gunmen kill 10 in restive northwest Cameroon

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In a tragic incident on Monday, gunmen attacked a busy junction in the city of Bamenda in Cameroon’s troubled northwest, resulting in the death of 10 people and injuring two others. According to a witness, the attackers arrived in vehicles on Sunday, ordering people to the ground and accusing them of failing to support local separatist groups. Some individuals obeyed the orders, while others tried to flee, but the attackers opened fire indiscriminately.

The Ambazonia Defense Forces (ADF), the main separatist group in the English-speaking region, which has been engaged in a conflict since 2017 to protest alleged marginalization by the majority French-speaking government, denied any responsibility for the attack. Adolphe Lele Lafrique, the governor of the North West region, confirmed that a manhunt had been initiated to apprehend the perpetrators, whom he referred to as “terrorists.”

Witnesses reported that men dressed in military uniforms arrived in two vehicles at Nacho Junction, a bustling area with restaurants, bars, and shops, at approximately 7:30 p.m. local time. They indiscriminately opened fire on people before quickly leaving the scene. Lucas Asu, a spokesperson for the ADF, suggested the possibility of the attack being a revenge killing, speculating that the attackers might have disguised themselves as separatist fighters.

The English-speaking regions of Cameroon have been embroiled in a conflict since 2017, resulting in the deaths of over 6,000 people. The unrest initially erupted after protests were violently suppressed, with separatist groups alleging marginalization by the predominantly French-speaking government. The recent incident in Bamenda highlights the ongoing security challenges in the region and the vulnerability of the local population.

Just earlier this month, Amnesty International released a scathing report condemning government troops, militias, and separatist groups for widespread human rights abuses, including killings, rapes, torture, and the burning of houses. The report also highlighted the threats and detention faced by individuals who dared to speak out against these atrocities.

The attack in Bamenda underscores the urgent need for a peaceful resolution to the conflict in Cameroon’s English-speaking regions. Efforts should be made to address the underlying grievances, promote dialogue, and ensure the protection of civilians. The international community, regional organizations, and local stakeholders must work collectively to seek a sustainable solution that restores peace, upholds human rights, and addresses the root causes of the conflict.

As investigations into the attack continue, it is imperative that the authorities bring the perpetrators to justice and take comprehensive measures to prevent such incidents from recurring. The safety and well-being of the people of Cameroon should be the utmost priority, and concerted efforts should be made to restore security, stability, and trust in the affected regions.

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