A key separatist commander named Polycarp Ekeom who laid down his weapons “to give peace a chance” in Cameroon’s English-speaking region has been killed “most probably by separatists”, the military source said on Thursday.
“He was killed Wednesday night at his residence in Wum. His body was mutilated. We were still preparing to take him to a secure location when the tragedy happened,” a military officer who asked not to be named told Xinhua.
Local authorities confirmed his death and said he was murdered.
On Wednesday, Ekeom who was controlling operations in Wum, a locality in the Anglophone region of Northwest, received a standing ovation after announcing at a public event his decision to drop his weapons and embrace normal life.
It is the first time since the creation of Cameroon’s National Committee on Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (NCDDR) in 2018, that an ex-fighter was killed after dropping his weapons in the country.
More than 100 separatist fighters have already dropped their weapons in the two Anglophone regions of Northwest and Southwest, according officials of NCDDR.
President Paul Biya has promised not to harm the separatists who will lay down their weapons, but warned that those who continue the armed struggle will “face the full force” of the Cameroon army.
Since 2017, armed separatists have been clashing with government forces in the regions in a bid to create an independent nation they call “Ambazonia”.
A national dialogue to end the separatist conflict held in the country early October recommended that greater autonomy should be given to the English-speaking regions.