Fighting Breaks Out In Bamenda

On Wednesday, 10 March, the city of Bamenda (the administrative headquarter of the Northwest Region of Cameroon) was the scene of heavy gunshots that disrupted commercial and other activities for the whole of that day. The serious and deafening gun firing started at some few minutes past 10 a.m. in the morning. Some sources say the Cameroon military was called into action by the detonation of an explosive by separatist fighters in a major entrance into Bamenda (Bali Park), where the military had mounted a roadblock for their routine checks on cars and everyone who used the road. Another source states that one of the tires of a heavy-duty truck, which was transporting fuel exploded just near the checkpoint and the military mistook it for a bomb dropped by armed separatist fighters and responded with gunshots. Other military men stationed in different parts of the town immediately joined their colleagues in firing their weapons and the whole town lit up with the noise of heavy gunshots. The gun firing lasted for approximately 1 and a half hours. Frightened by the gunshots, those who went out of their homes were forced to go back and the military insisted that people walk in files with their hands on their heads to avoid any further surprises springing upon them. As a result, commercial and other activities suddenly came to a stop and the streets were deserted for the rest of that day. Sources report that 2 military men were killed and others wounded in the aftermath of the gunshots.

Fulani Gunmen Add To Spiral Of Violence

A man known as Fai Fondze was brutally gunned down in his farm on Wednesday, 10 March at around 4 p.m. in the village of Ngarbuh. The villagers claimed the man was killed by Fulani gunmen who for some time now have taken advantage of the crisis and are causing untold havoc in Ngarbuh and neigbouring villages. Reports say the military went to the area where the man was killed in the night of that same Wednesday and fired many shots.

As in Nigeria, Fulani cattle herders have been invading land and driving out local residents for decades, supposedly in search of grazing. Initially they carried machetes, but are now carrying guns. Eye witnesses consistently report that the Fulani greet local government military commanders when they enter an area, and that they occupy land and kill local residents without any intervention by government security forces. The authorities have prohibited local residents from carrying weapons, whereas the Fulani are allowed to, leaving locals in a precarious situation. There is widespread speculation that government security forces collaborate with the Fulani, to operate as a “Third Force”. In 2019 videos made by government soldiers circulated widely on social media, showing Fulani burning down the palace of the local Chief at Wum, after killing the Chief and his wives. Soldiers were standing on the sidelines encouraging them.

Kumbo Under Fire

The town of Kumbo (the administrative headquarter of Bui Division in the Northwest Region) was another place where the Cameroonian military fired gunshots for over 2 hours. This incident took place on Saturday, 13 March. A priest who witnessed the gun firing said “the shootings in Kumbo this morning is so intense and heavy that one thinks the boys [the armed separatists] and the Cameroonian military want to empty their arsenals. Kindly keep the priests and people of Kumbo in your prayers”.  Moreover, responding to claims by the government that life was gradually returning to normal in Kumbo, the same priest said “Also ignore the naïve who claim once in a while that there is normalcy anywhere”.

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