Three soldiers were wounded Thursday as gunmen attacked a school in Kumba, a locality in Cameroon’s Southwest, one of the country’s two strife-torn English-speaking regions, Cameroon army said. The army immediately blamed armed separatists for the attack.
“A group of armed secessionists were breaking the Multimedia Center of Bilingual High School Kumba District 2, a joint intervention team of Police and Gendarmerie came down on the site. As a result of the exchange of gunfire three gendarmes were wounded and transported to the district hospital of Kumba. On the enemy side, several were neutralized and wounded,” a statement from the army said.
The Cameroonian security forces regularly use the word “neutralize” to refer to “kill.” Locals reported hearing “deafening sound” of gunshots in the localities of Kumba, Muyuka and Muea of the Southwest region as government forces clashed with armed separatists.
“Shooting started by midday and continued this evening. The streets are deserted. Everybody is indoors,” a resident of Kumba who preferred not to be named told Xinhua.
In his New Year message, Cameroon’s President Paul Biya warned that the armed separatists will be “neutralized” if they do not drop their weapons and “follow the right track.” On Wednesday, members of the diplomatic corps in Cameroon urged Biya to settle the conflict through “inclusive dialogue.”
Government forces and armed separatists have been clashing since November 2017 after separatists declared “independence” of the two Anglophone regions of Northwest and Southwest in the largely French-speaking African country.