Human rights activists on Wednesday condemned the killing of a young woman in Cameroon’s Anglophone regions after a video of alleged separatist rebels slitting her throat drew outrage on social media.
The conflict between separatists demanding independence from the mostly Francophone state and government forces has killed more than 3,000 people since 2017, with both sides regularly accused of committing atrocities.
In the video, a young woman is seen with her hand behind her back being accosted by several young men, who then slit her throat with a machete and dump her body in the middle of the road.
The Cameroon-based Centre for Human Rights and Democracy in Africa (CHRDA) said in a report that the victim was a 35-year-old mother of four. It said she was killed on Tuesday in the town of Muyuka by separatist fighters who accused her of spying for the government after she spent the weekend with a soldier.
CHRDA director Felix Agbor Nkongho told Reuters the incident spoke to a deteriorating security situation in the English-speaking Southwest and Northwest regions of the country.
“There is an escalation of crimes against civilians, especially women,” he said.
Ilaria Allegrozzi, a senior researcher for Human Rights Watch, called on separatist leaders and their supporters to “stop these atrocities and attacks against civilians”.
The main separatist organisation said in a statement that its initial investigations suggested the killing was related to “family disputes that have no connection with our struggle”, but that it would investigate further.
Cho Ayaba, the leader of a different separatist organisation, said he had been informed the killing was committed by a member of a separatist faction and that this person should be arrested.
“It is unacceptable to torture and then execute anyone and that includes even a captured military official,” he said.
Last week, a Cameroonian humanitarian worker was killed in the Northwest Region, according to the U.S. Embassy, which called for an independent investigation.