Cameroonian military officials say separatists have kidnapped and tortured several hundred civilians, accusing them of violating a lockdown imposed by fighters in the English-speaking western regions every Monday. The claim has sparked renewed condemnation of human rights abuses by the separatists.
In an audio clip from a video circulated on social media platforms such as Facebook and WhatsApp, voices of Cameroonians can be heard crying for help and begging for their lives, as armed men try to pull 17 people out of a bus. give orders. Armed men show AK-47 rifles and threaten to kill anyone who disobeys their orders. Four of the 17 people carrying children are women.
English-speaking separatists on social media say they took and shared the video. The Cameroonian military confirmed that it was taken by separatists in the South West region.
The armed men then force everyone on the bus to lie down and then beat them up with sticks and razors for more than 10 minutes. In the video, a man posing as a fighter says his group is punishing civilians who do not respect Monday’s lockdown imposed by separatists in English-speaking regions of Cameroon.
Cameroonian military officials say the attack was carried out by fighters traveling between the two commercial cities of Bua and Kumba in the English-speaking southwest region. Military officials say similar attacks and kidnappings by fighters were reported in several other English-speaking cities, including Mumpf, Akona and Tiko.
Officials also said that an improvised explosive device planted by fighters killed a taxi driver in Bua.
Last week, separatists said on social media that they killed four people collaborating with government troops to kill a man named Cross and Die, one of the fighters’ self-styled generals. Military officials confirmed that the soldiers had killed Cross and Die.
A separatist armed group, also known as the Ambazonia Defense Force, ADF, also said on social media that it carried out several attacks and kidnappings of hundreds of civilians in several cities to disrespect Monday’s shutdown ordered by separatists.
Didymus AP, a 37-year-old cocoa seller, says he was abducted in Akona. He says his kidnappers accused him of disobeying separatists’ orders that no one should be seen in public places on Monday.
He said, “The environment is so hostile, and we are just praying that one day the situation gets better, but for now it is very bad. On a daily basis when we go about our duties, we find ourselves put you in grave danger,” he said. .
The AP said he paid a $500 ransom for his release from a separatist camp in a bush.
Southwest region governor Bernard Okalia Bilai says citizens should not respect separatists’ calls to keep their businesses sealed on Monday.
“I hope everyone will support [the military] Condemning any disturbance or disorder that they see in their community. People should not hesitate to contact their local administrative authorities, law and order (military) or any other dignitary of their community to condemn any stranger, so we must continue to be vigilant.”
Bilai said the military has been instructed to protect civilians and their businesses from fighters who want to shut down economic activity on Monday.
Separatists have shut down economic activity in the English-speaking region on Mondays since 2017, as a sign that they control the region.
Violence erupted in the English-speaking regions of Cameroon in 2017, when teachers and lawyers protested alleged discrimination at the hands of the French-speaking majority. The military responded with a crackdown and separatist groups took up arms, claiming they were working to protect civilians.