Ten days after the Ngarbuh massacre in the North West region, Human Rights Watch, HRW has added its voice to that of the international community, stating that government troops were responsible for the act.
Supporting calls for investigation and justice, HRW says it spoke to 35 people including 3 witnesses.
“Witnesses said that between 10 and 15 soldiers, including members of the Rapid Intervention Battalion, the elite unit of the Cameroonian army, and at least 30 armed Fulani first entered Ngarbuh 1, a neighbourhood in Ngarbuh, on foot at about 11 p.m” it states, adding that “on February 13, looting scores of homes. Some of these forces then continued to the Ngarbuh 2 neighbourhood, looting homes and beating civilians. At around 5 a.m. on February 14, a group of soldiers and armed Fulani attacked the Ngarbuh 3 neighbourhood, killing 21 civilians in four homes, then burning the houses.”
“Human Rights Watch also reviewed satellite imagery taken before and after the attack in Ngarbuh. The post-attack image, taken at 10:24 a.m. Cameroon time on February 14, shows several homes in Ngarbuh with damage that is consistent with burning” the release adds.
Several attempts to contact a senior member of the government to comment on the issue, HRW says all proved futile.
Despite government’s version of the story, “witnesses and residents with whom Human Rights Watch spoke said that there was no confrontation between armed separatists and security forces, that they heard no explosions, and that the killings were deliberate” says HRW.
“soldiers threatened people, admitting that they had killed children in Ngarbuh 3, and saying that they would do the same in Ngarbuh ” it added.
“On February 16, a joint team of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees attempted to carry out a humanitarian needs assessment in Ngarbuh, but Rapid Intervention Battalion soldiers blocked them in Ntumbaw, the village closest to Ngarbuh, where the UN teams had started interviewing those displaced by the attack. Witnesses said that the soldiers photographed those who were being interviewed and prevented the UN team from doing its work” HRW revealed more.
Noting that “This is not the first time that the Cameroonian authorities have denied that its troops killed civilians”, HRW “suggests that the killing of civilians in Ngarbuh 3 was deliberate. Witnesses and residents said that between 10 and 15 security force members acted jointly with a group of about 30 ethnic Fulani men who wore civilian clothes and were armed with machetes, clubs, and hunting guns.”
Despite several reports placing Cameroon soldiers as perpetrators of the massacre, the government has maintained refusal of responsibility.
Addressing activist Calibri Calibro over the weekend, French President Emmanuel Macron promised to call president Biya this week to discuss the killings including the massacre.
Here is today’s Human Right Watch Report: https://www.hrw.org/news/2020/02/25/cameroon-civilians-massacred-
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