YAUNDE, Cameroon – Eyewitnesses in the northwestern Cameroonian town of Kumbo have complained that the military killed several civilians during a separatist operation on Monday. The Cameroonian military has denied that any civilians were killed. Seven soldiers were killed in the clashes when their armored vehicle hit an improvised explosive device. The Presbyterian Church in Cameroon has called for an independent inquiry into reports of civilian deaths.
Cameroon’s military said Monday that seven of its soldiers were killed when their armored vehicle struck an improvised explosive device in the western village of Kikakelahki.
The troops were part of a military convoy sent to fight separatists around the city of Kumbo.
The military says more troops have been deployed to find and kill separatists armed with explosive devices.
Deben Tofo is the governor of the northwestern region of Cameroon where combos are found. He said the army was also instructed to search and seize weapons used illegally by separatists.
“The government banned the circulation of those weapons, and we instructed the administrative authorities and security forces to recover all the guns and ammunition that were scattered in the area. Many guns have been taken and services are now at the administrative and security level. The process is ongoing.”
The Cameroonian army says government forces have killed 113 militants in retaliation for the deaths of seven soldiers.
Philip Endongway Kumbo is a teacher. He said one of the dead was a popular motorcycle taxi driver. He said those who ran home for safety were attacked in Cameroon military uniforms.
“They actually jumped on campus, shot in the air, and you could see the panic and I had nothing to do but struggle to save myself. I hid myself under the table at first.
The Kumbo Catholic Church on Monday condemned the killing of civilians and blamed both fighters and government troops for the violence.
Funky Samuel Forba, moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Cameroon, said those who were killing civilians should be investigated independently to find out whether they were fighters or government soldiers.
“There should be a ceasefire in this country. Gun barrels will not solve this problem. Unless we sit down as a family and talk about our problems, we will not solve this problem. We are all waiting. We can. Only one true fact can be found. When a credible agency investigates the situation. The culprits will be brought to justice. “
The military has denied involvement in the killings, insisting that all those killed were fighters. The military says its troops are professional.
Violence erupted in Cameroon’s English-speaking region in 2016, when teachers and lawyers protested alleged discrimination at the hands of the French-speaking majority.
The government responded with a crackdown that started an armed movement for an independent, English-speaking state.