from ROSY SADOU in Yaoundé, Cameroon
YAOUNDE, (CAJ News) – THE alleged killing of eight people by soldiers recently is the latest incident in long running violations by armed forces in the English-speaking regions of Cameroon.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) reported that three children, two teenagers, two women and an elderly man were killed during three separate military operations in the volatile North West region in December 2021.
Troops allegedly burned down dozens of homes and shops.
“Cameroonian security forces have again shown disregard for human life during their recent operations in the North West region,” said Ilaria Allegrozzi, HRW senior Africa researcher.
Allegrozzi said the killings of civilians, including children, are serious crimes that should be credibly and independently investigated and perpetrators held accountable.
HRW documented incidents between December 8 and 22.
In the first incident, in response to an attack on a military convoy by armed separatist fighters, soldiers allegedly killed two teenagers
(aged 16 and 17) and a 70-year-old man in Bamenda, the capital of the North West region.
They reportedly burned at least 35 houses and shops.
On December 10, troops allegedly shot dead four people accusing them of sheltering separatist fighters in the village of Chomba, about 10 kilometres from Bamenda.
On December 22, following an alleged attack earlier in the day by armed separatist fighters, soldiers allegedly shot and killed a three-year-old girl and injured a 17-year-old female in the Ngomgham neighborhood of Bamenda.
HRW believes the failure of the Cameroonian government to hold its security forces accountable for abuses committed in the past emboldened soldiers to commit new crimes.
Militants are demanding a breakaway of English-speaking regions of Cameroon, citing marginalization by the government of President Paul Biya, said to be dominated by French-speaking Cameroonians.
It is estimated 4 000 people have been killed to date with more than 800 000 others displaced during that peaked since 2017.
– CAJ News