Separatist fighters in Cameroon killed three soldiers and wounded four others during an attack overnight in the English-speaking Southwest region, two military sources and a separatist commander said on Sunday.
The attack in the town of Kembong came hours after President Paul Biya said in a televised address that the situation in Anglophone Cameroon was stable, despite ongoing widespread fighting, Reuters reports.
Separatists have killed 25 soldiers and policemen in a series of raids over the past year in a bid to gain independence for the Anglophone Southwest and Northwest regions.
“ADF forces carried out the attacks,” said Cho Ayaba, the leader of the Ambazonian Defence Force, an armed separatist group.
The crisis began in 2016 when the government cracked down on English-speaking lawyers and teachers who protested against working in French.
Civilians were killed, and subsequent violence against protesters has helped boost support for a separatist movement, including armed groups looking to form a new state called Ambazonia, in a campaign to split Cameroon’s English-speaking minority from Yaounde.
An army crackdown on the insurgency has forced more than 40,000 people to flee to neighbouring Nigeria, according to the United Nations.
Residents in the Anglophone regions told Reuters last week that the army burned houses in the village of Bole and shot residents on Feb. 2.
An army spokesman said claims that houses were burned and people shot in Bole were “totally false”, and he denied that soldiers were mistreating residents in other villages.