At least four civilians were shot dead in war-torn Southern Cameroons on Tuesday as Southern Cameroonians began what the Ambazonia Interim Government called a “10-day lockdown”.
“In the Southwest region, three civilians including a student were killed in the localities of Buea, Tiko and Mutegene,” a military officer who opted for anonymity revealed. “In the chief town of Northwest, Bamenda, a commercial motorcyclist was shot dead,” said the officer.
Residents interviewed by the Chinese media organization Xinhua said there were “deafening” sound of gunshots in major junctions of the regions.
“We have been hearing the sound since morning. Businesses have closed and there is virtually no circulation of vehicles in the town,” Emmanuel Mbah, a resident in Bamenda hinted.
The Francophone army said the Southern Cameroons civilians were killed by Ambazonia Restoration Forces as a measure to impose a lockdown in the regions. However, the Southern Cameroons Interim Government have denied killing the civilians and rather blamed the Francophone army for “careless shooting.”
The Ambazonian Interim Government has banned all sorts of activities in the regions from Feb. 5-14 as a move to disrupt National Youth Day activities expected to be celebrated on Feb. 11.
On Saturday, the Francophone Governor Bernard Okalia Bilai of Southwest threatened to “severely punish” civil servants in the region who will respect the lockdown.
“If they don’t work, they will be sacked,” Bilai said. Southern Cameroonians are seeking to secede from French-majority Cameroon and have already created a new nation called ” The Federal Republic of Ambazonia.”
According to the United Nations, more than 430,000 people have been displaced internally since the separatists started clashing with government forces in 2017.
Reported by Sama Ernest with files from Xinhua