from ROSY SADOU in Yaoundé, Cameroon
YAOUNDE, (CAJ News) – AUTHORITIES have heightened security after assailants killed nine people and kidnapped an unspecified number of individuals in western Cameroon.
Dozens of unidentified attackers riding motorcycles raided a market in Bamenyam, West Region, on the morning of Tuesday.
They also set fire and looted some shops and vehicles. Two defense and security agents were reportedly wounded during the incident.
While there have been no confirmed claims of responsibility, it is believed the attack may have been carried out by Ambazonia separatists operating in the Southwest and Northwest regions of Cameroon.
This incident occurred two weeks after another attack targeting civilians in the village of Egbekaw, which reportedly resulted in around 30 deaths in the Northwest region. Some 465 people fled the village after the attack, mainly women and children.
The separatists are violently advocating for self rule of the English-speaking regions, alleging marginalization by the government of President Paul Biya, dominated by French speakers.
Biya (90) has been in power since 1982 and allegations that his administration rigs elections to keep him in power has also agitated the Ambazonia separatists.
Following the incident this week security forces have established roadblocks, checkpoints to search vehicles and personnel.
Armed clashes involving fleeing attackers and security forces have not been ruled out.
Such clashes have been prevalent since 2016.
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) reports that the crisis of the afflicted population in Cameroon is exacerbated by malnutrition, a rise in staple food prices and the fact that 38 percent of the population lives below the poverty line.
“The security situation in Cameroon remains complex,” said a humanitarian official. In recent weeks, separatists have thwarted the resumption of school through so-called lockdowns.
“UNICEF and its partners are persistent in their efforts to address diverse needs, but they are impeded by security threats, inadequate infrastructure, bureaucratic red tape and significant funding deficits,” the agency stated.
– CAJ News