Three people including a police officer have died in violence in a flashpoint town at the centre of violence raging between anglophone separatists and Cameroon’s government, witnesses told AFP on Friday.
The trio died between Wednesday and Friday in Kumba in the country’s southwest which, along with the northwest region, is home to Cameroon’s anglophone minority as well as the nascent separatist movement.
Cameroon will vote in presidential elections on Sunday amid tight security including a ban on travel by road, rail or air from 1700 GMT on Saturday until the conclusion of voting.
The borders of the central African nation of 25 million people will also be sealed 48 hours ahead of voting day, according to a decree seen by AFP.
Witnesses in Kumba said that an alleged separatist fighter “who was terrorising the local population” was killed by security forces on Friday.
A civilian and a police officer were killed in a separate incident in the town on Wednesday, according to the same witnesses whose account was confirmed by a local NGO.
The violence has claimed the lives of at least 420 civilians, 175 members of the security forces and an unknown number of separatists since a symbolic independence declaration one year ago, according to the International Crisis Group think-tank.
Kumba, 110km northwest of Douala, has been one of the worst affected regions since the outbreak of violence.
Separatist fighters, who call themselves the “Ambazonia Republic”, have threatened to disrupt Sunday’s poll at which President Paul Biya, 85, will seek a seventh term.
Authorities have flooded the affected areas with security reinforcements while many officials have fled repeated attacks on symbols of state power.