At least 22 people have been killed in an attack in northwestern Cameroon, a UN official said on Sunday – the latest incident in a wave of violence to shake the country’s restive English-speaking regions.
Some 8,000 people have fled anglophone areas in recent weeks for Nigeria, following rising violence involving the army and separatist groups, who called for a boycott of parliamentary and municipal elections earlier this month.
The attack on Friday in Ntumbo village left 14 children dead – including nine under the age of five – according to the UN official. Opposition groups said the army was responsible, but the military blamed the explosion of fuel containers during a gunfight with separatists.
According to Human Rights Watch, more than 100 people were kidnapped by separatists in the run-up to the elections – the first in seven years after two postponements – while government forces also committed violations including the killing of civilians.
“This is the first time since the anglophone crisis began that I have seen this level of violence,” Ilaria Allegrozzi, senior researcher at Human Rights Watch, told The New Humanitarian earlier this month.
Fighting between Cameroon’s security forces and the anglophone rebels – who are demanding independence– has displaced around 740,000 people over the past three years and left more than 3,000 civilians dead.
– Philip Kleinfeld