The death of an unidentified young man in Fiango, Kumba, has been blamed on members of Cameroon’s elite military force, the BIR.
BIR members stormed the neighbourhood on September 1 amid rumours of an impending separatist lockdown.
A Fiango resident told MMI that the young man was tagged as an Ambazonia fighter before being killed and his body dumped at Three Corners Fiango. The military visited the area after rumours circulated about a looming separatist lockdown in prelude to school resumption on September 4.
“Due to the upcoming ghost town, the military just killed anybody they suspected without any concrete evidence,” the resident said.
He also stated that the young man who was killed had been living a normal life in the neighbourhood like any other civilian.
MMI spoke with senior journalist Gideone (full name withheld for security reasons), who is based in Kumba, about the said incident, and he confirmed a body was found that morning but said people were still confused as to who killed the young man.
He said residents woke up to the corpse, and many were unaware of who had killed him. “A corpse was discovered this morning at the 3 Corners Roundabout. However, before I could leave town, the exact killers weren’t yet known,” Gideone said.
He added that he was “unsure whether he is a civilian or an Amba”.
Two days before this young man was killed at Fiango, gendarmerie officers in Mambanda, Kumba III Subdivision, were reported to have killed another man after associating him with the Ambazonia armed struggle.
Government propagandists alleged that the man, whom they identified as Sakwe Samuel, was commanding a separatist armed group at Ediki Mbonge in Konye Subdivision and that gendarmes hunted him down for killing a pregnant woman.
“Usually these propaganda platforms quickly tag those killed by soldiers as Amba,” said Feh Ndih, a Kumba resident. Separatist fighters, similarly, usually seek to justify the killing of their victims by tagging them as blacklegs.
Several cases of such summary killings by seemingly unknown gunmen have been rampant in villages and towns in Cameroon’s English-speaking Regions since the ongoing armed conflict started in 2017.
The English-speaking Regions, which have suffered school boycotts and poor turnouts in the last few years due to the crisis, are gearing up for school resumption this year with more optimism.
Most separatist leaders and groups that previously stood against the reopening of schools have relaxed the measure.
However, an ideal peaceful environment is still desired in many parts of the two Regions. Incidents like the recent one in Kumba, coming just three days to school resumption, could feed people’s fears.
By Tata Mbunwe