3 Civilians Killed As Military Invades Bali Nyonga in Search of General Grandpa and the ARFs Under His Command

In the early hours of August 11, 2021 the people of Bali Nyonga woke up to gunshots. A source told DHPI that the military had sneaked into the village that night and positioned themselves in strategic areas. In the course of the gunshots, the armed forces broke into homes demanding the whereabouts of General Grandpa under whose command the ARFs have killed a good number of state forces and carted away tons of arms and ammunition.

The deafening gunshots continued till about 10 A.M. causing many people to run into the bushes nearby. Those who could not make it to the bushes flocked around the premises of Saint Francis Xavier Catholic Church and the Catholic Health Centre, and spent almost the whole day there as DHPI learnt from Fr Reemla Divine, the Parish Priest.

DHPI also learnt that some people were forcefully taken by the military and six motorbikes confiscated.

The next day (August 12, 2021) the gunshots started all over and impeded some health workers and auxiliary staff from turning up for work in the Catholic Health Centre. The shooting became so intense that the Matron of the Health Centre Rev Sr Patience Bomki told DHPI that some patients requested to be discharged and sent home for the sake of their personal safety.

This second day of the military invasion coincided with the local market day and 3 people were reportedly killed. One of the victims, a young man said to be mentally unstable was killed at the market when soldiers stormed the area and disrupted the activities that were going on there. Food items and other articles for sale were confiscated by the military, and the items deemed useless were destroyed, an eye-witness who opted for anonymity told DHPI.

Two other civilians were also killed in Bossa locality in Bali Sub Division by the Cameroon military.

DHPI also learnt that men, women and children were seriously assaulted and asked to show where separatist fighters were hiding. Homes and shops were also looted in the raids and what the people had prepared to take to the market were carried away by the soldiers including huge sums of money.

“On their way to Bossa village, they [military] got into a bar and drank to their satisfaction. When returning from Bossa and noticing that the owner had emptied the bar of the drinks, they got angry and destroyed the chairs and tables including empty beer bottles and crates,” an eye-witness recounted.

The invasion of Bali by the military has been understood by a good number of people to be a retaliatory move by the state security forces in response to the 5 police officers who were killed by the ARFs on July 18, 2021 as the videos on social media depicted the killers claiming to be ARFs loyal to General Grandpa.

We also recall that the Senior Divisional Officer for Mezam in the North West region of Cameroon Simon Emile Mooh in a prefectural order signed on Tuesday, July 20, 2021, banned the circulation of commercial motorbikes in Bali Nyonga sub-division for a period of three months renewable. The ARFs responded to this by banning the movement of commercial and private vehicles on the major state road linking Bamenda (through Bali) and Ekok in Nigeria for as long as the Senior Divisional Officer’s decree stood.

The ban on motorbikes by the government and the corresponding ban of vehicles by the separatist fighters has already negatively impacted the people so far and now the invasion by the military just comes to add salt to the wounds. Motorbikes are the main mode of transportation in Bali in particular and the Division as well as neighbouring Divisions in general. So the people have been walking on foot within and without Bali for agricultural, commercial and various reasons for almost a month now. The mental strain it imposes on the people is indescribable as DHPI learnt from a reliable source that the military told locals they would be in Bali for 3 months or more until the ARFs were totally disbanded.

The ARFs in most cases live in hideouts way out of the normal settlement of people. It is not clear why government forces will be searching for them among the locals.

Governor Claims Early Victory in Clearing North West Region Road Blocks

The governor of the Northwest Region, Adolphe Lele L’Afrique has declared that ongoing military operations in the region has resulted in the reopening of some major roads recently blocked by armed groups.

DHPI was reliably informed that the stretch of road from Bambui in Tubah Subdivision linking Mezam and Boyo Divisions of the Northwest Region had remained blocked by ARFs for over a month until August 16, 2021. The Governor of the Northwest Region made this tour to inspect the reopening of the road under serious military escort. “The operation has started, is ongoing and will continue to secure all those areas that have been blocked by the terrorists” the Governor stated. “We came here to access the situation of the area between Bamenda and Fundong and I can now say everything is okay now for circulation to resume,” added the Governor.

Below are some reactions to the remarks of the Governor on twitter gleaned from Mimi Mefo’s twitter thread:

nuelchouyoh (@Nuelchouyoh) Tweeted: Why are these people so heartless! Will the population be having same military escorts as he is parading himself with now? How will a person be surrounded by army and is saying things are normal. Is that a normal environment Mr Governor?

NebaAyanji (@Ayanji Neba) Tweeted: Since the situation is so normal. Let him drive to Bali without all that army battalion around him. Let them keep telling themselves lies!!

micheal_jordans (@Micheal Jordans) Tweeted: What we are witnessing in is a tragedy that should have been foreseen and averted. It will only be compounded further without swift & decisive action from the international community.

MClouvis (@Maneh Clouvis) Tweeted: The best way for him to prove the way has been cleared is for him to go there without military battalions and armored vehicles (sic).

The reactions above tell the complete story. It is due to these window-dressing methods employed by the government that the situation has escalated this far and the future of this conflict continues to look bleak. The government always does everything to save face with the international community and to give a semblance of life returning to normal in the troubled regions of the country. It is only on this stretch of road under consideration that broken vehicles and other objects were used to block the road. However, what is interesting to note is that other roads remain open but with the injunction from the separatist fighters, no one dares use them. It thus remains to be seen whether the locals will start using the road that the military have reopened. As has always been the case, the locals tend to follow the instructions of the separatists more.

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