The number of villagers killed during an attack in western Cameroon has risen to 25, the government said Tuesday, blaming anglophone separatists. The pre-dawn assault on Monday occurred at Egbekaw village, in the southwest region, the scene of deadly clashes between rebels and government forces for seven years.
The authorities had announced on Monday that more than 20 people died, including women and children. The Communications Ministry on Tuesday said 19 men, five women and one child were killed, and accused a small separatist faction called Manyu Unity Warriors of carrying out the assault.
Gunmen had first set fire to “several houses before firing at close quarters on people trying to escape” the flames, the ministry said. Cameroon’s primarily English-speaking northwest and southwest regions have been gripped by conflict since separatists declared independence in 2017. That followed decades of grievances over perceived discrimination by the Francophone majority.
President Paul Biya, 90, who has ruled the central African nation with an iron fist for 41 years, has resisted calls for wider autonomy and responded with a crackdown. The conflict has claimed more than 6,000 lives and forced more than a million people to flee their homes, according to the International Crisis Group. Both the separatists and government forces have been accused of atrocities in the fighting.
Armed groups are regularly accused of abducting, killing or injuring civilians whom they accuse of “collaborating” with Cameroonian authorities. Security forces are also often accused by international NGOs and the United Nations of killings and torture against civilians suspected of sympathizing with the rebels. In July, Amnesty International reported that security forces, separatist rebels and ethnic militiamen had committed “atrocities” in the northwest region, including executions, torture and rape.
Source: VOA NEWS