The Cameroonian government says separatists were behind a raid on a security checkpoint that killed two gendarmes – paramilitary forces.
Information minister Issa Tchiroma told the AFP news agency that the attackers who were armed also took away the guns of the slain officers.
The attack on Monday evening took place in Bamenda the capital of the restive northwest region of the country, specifically in the town of Jakiri.
Local media portals have reported a mass exodus of young people from the town in the wake of the attack amid rising fear of reprisals and represssion by the security forces. Already droves of people have fled the region into Nigeria, the United Nations refugee agency confirmed last week.
People in Cameroon’s anglophone regions – Northwest and Southwest – have long protested marginalization from the French majority. An attempt at declaring a symbolic independence in early October led to clashes that resulted in deaths, injuries and mass arrests.
An global security outfit, the International Crisis Group had cautioned in October that the state crackdown could lead to an armed uprising. The group was subsequently banned from actively covering the situation in the region.
Historical accounts show that despite being colonized by Germany, the country was split by Britain and France after the first World War. It was unified in 1961 and has since existed with the Anglophone and Francophone divide.
President Paul Biya is on record to have stated that the unity of the central African nation remained non-negotiable. He has condemned the violence and called for dialogue – which process has yet to be initiated.
The United States, the United Kingdom, the United Nations, European Union, African Union and other parties have all backed the call for dialogue and the need for the respect of the rights of protesters.