Cameroon military crushes separatist rebellion in country’s English-speaking region
Cameroon’s military announces it deployed scores of troops to three districts on Monday January 2 in the central African state’s English-speaking Northwest region to deal with an increased violence by armed gangs.
The military says armed gangs in Oku, Kumbo and Kakiri districts over the weekend sealed markets, chased people and vehicles from the streets and abducted scores of civilians who did not comply with their orders. There were reports of armed men belonging to the separatists, who call themselves Ambazonians or Amba, seizing motorcycles from taxi drivers and pointing guns at them.
Battles between troops and rebels have reportedly intensified after President Paul Biya’s New Year’s Eve speech. Biya said many rebel groups have been crushed and the threat from separatists has been significantly reduced.
The president also praised the central African state’s military for protecting civilians and property during the six-year conflict and said peace would pave the way for the region’s reconstruction.
The separatists denied their fighters are abducting and harassing civilians. On social media posts Monday, they said their fighters were enforcing the curfew to counter Biya’s claim that fighters were being defeated.
Capo Daniel, a self-declared deputy defense chief of the Ambazonia Defense Forces, dismissed the allegation that their forces have been significantly reduced. Cameroon’s military admits that troops have been in running battles with rebels in several western towns and villages but says their forces did not suffer any casualties.
The separatists in English-speaking western Cameroon launched their rebellion in 2017 after what they said was years of discrimination by the country’s French-speaking majority. they say they want to carve out an English-speaking state they call Ambazonia.
The United Nations says the conflict has killed more than 3,500 people and displaced over 750,000.