Cameroon staged its biggest ever anti-terrorism exercise Tuesday and Wednesday to prepare against any terrorist attacks during the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) which will be hosted by the Central African nation next year.
Sirens wailed as 100 personnel drawn from the army, navy as well as police and rescue services gave a carefully orchestrated demonstration of how they would deal with a terrorist attack during a football match.
During the mock exercises held at the Ahmadou Ahidjo Stadium in Yaounde, the capital, policemen and soldiers overpowered a group of gunmen who took some important personalities and other football spectators hostage.
“The objective of this exercise was to make sure that every (security) unit understands what to do. We also wanted to see if there is synchronisation of action and understanding of each other in order to be able to get to the solution which is bringing back peace and security. We wanted to prove that Cameroon is ready for any eventuality during AFCON,” Colonel Franics Ekosso, one of the organizers of the event, told reporters during the simulation exercise staged.
“Although it is an exercise, it gives us an opportunity to show how we can interact with defense forces in situations like this,” said Leonard Ntuntu, commander of 10th Fire and Rescue Battalion.
The army said the exercises were not held in response to a specific threat but noted that an armed separatist movement in the country’s Anglophone regions, Boko Haram insurgency in the Far North region, and some security challenges in other parts of the Central African nation were reasons enough for the army to prepare for any eventuality.
AFCON, a biennial competition involving 24 African countries, is scheduled to take place in Cameroon from Jan. 9 to Feb. 6 next year.