In the morning of Monday 20 May 2019, denizens of Kikaikelaki, a locality on the way out of Kumbo towards Nkambe, breathed a sigh of relief as elements of Cameroon’s defence forces left the previous evening.
Locals told Mimi Mefo Info that a military car broke down in the area, Tuesday 14 May 2019. Since then, elements of the defence forces are reported to have been in the area till the evening of the following Sunday 19 May.
The random gunshots scared most people to either remain indoors for about five days or escape to the bushes, without provision or shelter.
One member of a group that spent the nights in a small farm hut told Mimi Mefo Info that they made three firesides to send away mosquitoes. “We are lucky that there are cooking pots in this hut,” he said. “Others are not as lucky as we are.”
In the course of over five days, 18 houses are reported to have been broken into, allegedly by the elements of the military. This included the Government Health Centre in the area, which was searched and ransacked. There was only one patient there, who reports say was too sick to escape with the others.
Many of the houses that were broken into are said to have been looted. One of these was that of a local business man, Yovka (we have withheld real names). Two shops of this man had earlier been broken into since the beginning of May 2019, and in one of the cases, his assets were burned (after some were looted) together with those of others.
Locals told MMI that some of them could see what was going on from their distant hideouts. After some people went out on the morning of 20 May 2019, Yovka’s house was empty: the bed, mattresses, gas bottle and cookers and other items were absent. This was said to have been the case in several neighborhoods with the other houses.
Some residents said they feared that the elements of the defence forces were moving about within the neighbourhoods. Many of them feared trying to move to the Catholic Church. This was because a week before, on Tuesday 7 May 2019 defence forces are reported to have attempted without success to break into the Catholic Church where some people had taken shelter.
Kikaikelaki has incurred many losses of life and property in recent weeks, either during confrontations between Cameroon’s military and separatist fighters, or during independent military operations. Some families have lived in the bush for over 3 months. Teenaged Claris (real names withheld) and her parents now lived in one enclosure made with palm branches and thatched. “Her father and mother sleep on a mat, and Claris sleeps on a plank,” a source told MMI.
Meanwhile, on the night of Sunday 19 May was characterised by heavy gun shots around Kumbo, which intensified in the morning of Monday. At press time casualties were already being reported, but MMI has not been able to independently verify these.
20 May is the day of the celebration of National Unity in Cameroon, which has now been questioned in the North West and South West Regions.
Mimi Mefo Info