A home-made device exploded overnight near a police station in the Bamenda County in Southern Cameroons, where the leaders of the Southern Cameroons Ambazonia Governing Council have launched a campaign for independence, concurring sources said Tuesday. There were no reported casualties, they said.
The bomb detonated near a police unit called the Mobile Intervention Group in Bamenda, the chief city in the Bamenda State, a security official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. The information was confirmed separately to AFP by an official with the regional government, who added that another device nearby was safely defused by police.
There was no claim of responsibility by late afternoon. The blast came after a weekend of violence in which 19 people were killed in the English-speaking Northwest and Southwest regions as the authorities clamped down on a symbolic declaration of independence for “Ambazonia,” the name of the state radical anglophones wish to create.
Fourteen died in clashes with security forces, and five were prisoners shot by guards in an attempted jail break at Kumbo, according to an AFP toll. Cameroon, a francophone-majority nation in central-western Africa, has a large anglophone minority, comprising about a fifth of its population of 22 million.
English-speakers complain they suffer inequality and discrimination — a resentment that has fuelled a breakaway movement that culminated Sunday in a symbolic declaration of independence from the rest of Cameroon.
President Paul Biya strongly opposes independence, as well as a less radical alternative for a return to a federal structure, which the country once had. Home-made bombs exploded in Bamenda on September 18 and September 22 in Douala, Cameroon’s economic hub, which is in a francophone region.
The blasts prompted the government to ratchet up its response to anglophone agitation, notably calling the separatists “terrorists”. This was followed by orders for a three-day curb on movement in the two anglophone areas, coinciding with the independence declaration.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and Amnesty International have called on Cameroon to investigate the fatalities, and the European Union and France, the country’s former colonial power, have urged dialogue and non-violence.
Cameroon was a German colony from 1884 until 1919, when it was split into British- and French- run entities at the end of World War I. Today’s anglophone-francophone rift dates back to 1961, when the British-administered Southern Cameroons united with Cameroon after its independence from France in 1960.