Buea (Cameroon) (AFP) – At least seven people were killed in Cameroon’s restive anglophone belt at the weekend as a separatist group made a symbolic declaration of independence.
The separatists chose October 1, the anniversary of the official reunification of the anglophone and francophone parts of Cameroon, to declare independence for “Ambazonia”, the name of the state they want to create.
Since November, the anglophone minority has been protesting against perceived discrimination.
The government deployed security forces at the weekend in English-speaking regions, notably Buea in the southwest and Bamenda, the main town in the northwest and a hub of anglophone agitation.
Several people were admitted to hospital in Bamenda Sunday after clashes between demonstrators and police, according to a medical source.
“At least one person was injured by live fire” in Bamenda, where the situation was “very tense”, a source close to the local authorities told AFP.
The “security forces had to resort to tear gas and sometimes to shots to disperse the protesters”, the source said by telephone.
Bamenda residents contacted by AFP reported “shooting” by the security forces without giving further details.
– ‘Real bullets’ –
One of the leaders of the opposition Social Democratic Front (SDF), Joshua Osih, told AFP the security forces were “firing real bullets at the protesters” but stressed that he was not a supporter of the secessionist movement.
In Ndop, 40 kilometres (25 miles) from Bamenda, two people were “shot dead”, according to sources, while one was killed in Kumbo on the sidelines of the protests, city mayor Donatus Njong said.
Also in Kumbo, three prison inmates were shot and killed trying to escape while security forces were mobilised for the deployments in anglophone regions, a source close to regional authorities said.
A young man was shot dead by security forces on Saturday in the southwest town of Kumba, known as a rebellious city since the start of the protests, sparking clashes…