Authorities in Cameroon have imposed a night-time curfew and ordered the closure of shops and public places in the main city in a region rocked by unrest among the country’s anglophone minority.
The measure applies to the city of Bamenda, the hub of Northwest Region, where two policemen were killed on Tuesday, a day after an officer was gunned down in a nearby town.
Under a decree issued by the local prefect, obtained on Thursday by AFP, all movement of people and vehicles in Bamenda is being banned from November 8 to 23, from 10 pm to 5 am.
In a separate decision, the authorities also said that shops and public spaces would be closed during this period.
The measures threaten punishment against “any person or group” who violate the restrictions. The curb on freedom of movement does not apply to vehicles used by the government, security forces or emergency services.
On Wednesday, two gendarmes were killed while on guard duty in Bamenda and a civilian killed, according to concurring sources.
The killings came a day after a fellow policeman was shot dead in Jakiri, about 70 kilometres (45 miles) to the east, while he was pursuing men who attacked a school, according to local officials.
The assaults have been blamed on “secessionist terrorists” — the government’s term for armed militants demanding that Cameroon’s two English-speaking regions break away from the francophone-majority country.
Cameroon has a large anglophone community which comprises about a fifth of its population of 22 million.
Gathered mainly in the Northwest and Southwest Regions, many English speakers say they suffer economic inequality and discrimination at the hands of the francophone majority, particularly in education and justice.
On October 1, a breakaway movement issued a symbolic declaration of independence for their putative state of “Ambazonia”.
President Paul Biya fiercely opposes secession or a return to Cameroon’s former federal structure.
The agitation began at the end of 2016 but has recently met with a crackdown that has alarmed human-rights watchdogs.
At least 14 people have died in clashes, as well as five prisoners who were killed while trying to escape jail, according to a toll compiled by AFP.
International monitors, in contrast, say at least 20 and possibly 40 people have been killed in clashes since late September.
According to the privately owned newspaper Le Jour, the Cameroonian authorities have issued international arrest warrants for 15 anglophone separatists who live abroad, including Sisiku Ayuk Tabe, the head of the putative state.