Amnesty International has revealed that no less than 17 people have been killed thus far following clashes between security forces and protesters in Cameroon’s English-speaking regions.
According to Amnesty International’s Lake Chad region researcher, Ilaria Allegrozzi, the victims died across several towns in the two Anglophone regions bordering Nigeria.
“The worrying escalation witnessed over the weekend has now reached a crisis point,” Allegrozzi said. A local mayor confirmed that one of the victims was a 13-year-old girl who died from bullet wounds.
Witnesses said security forces opened fire, often at close range after launching a crackdown on the Anglophone region of the country, to silence potential demonstrators who intend to file out to protest ill treatment and neglect by the predominantly Francophone government of President Paul Biya.
Reports say economic and social activities in the regions’ main cities, Buea and Bamenda, have been paralysed as military helicopters circled overhead and the (BIR), a unit that typically fights Islamist Boko Haram militants in the country’s north are said to be on the leash.
The protests, which began late last year, have become a lightning rod for opposition to President Paul Biya’s 35-year rule and it is timed to take place on the anniversary of Anglophone Cameroon’s independence from Britain – came as a months-old movement against perceived marginalisation by the Francophone-dominated government gathered pace.
RipplesNigeria… without borders, without fears