There has been a loud outcry following a school shooting in Kumba, Cameroon’s South West region.
Though the shooters remain at large, suspecting fingers point at separatist fighters who claim to be defending their independent state of Ambazonia for four years today.
Today’s school shooting is one of a series of attacks schools in Kumba have had to face for operating against the will of some separatist fighters, especially those clamouring for school boycott.
In April 2018, a teacher was shot dead and several other students injured after gunmen attacked the Government Bilingual High School Kosala. The incident caused consternation – students and staff had to flee the campus for safety.
The death of the Senior Discipline Master of the school, Ashu Thomas Nkongho came barely a month after his office had been burnt in a previous attack months earlier, by unknown persons.
In June, still in 2018, two upper sixth students of the General Certificate of Education examination centre at Government High School, GHS Ngamlikum in Kumba, were kidnapped. While one of them was released on the same day, the other spent several days in captivity before eventually regaining his freedom.
Though not directly linked to any academic institution, worthy of note is the fact that the Kumba district hospital was razed to ashes in early February, leaving patients and health personnel stranded.
Both parties in the armed conflict traded accusations – with reports suggesting that some soldiers carried out the burning after they were dissatisfied with the facility for rendering health care to wounded soldiers. Officials on their part said separatists were responsible.
On Tuesday, November 19, 2019, reports indicated that men believed to be separatist fighters once more struck, attacking Lords Bilingual School that fateful Tuesday afternoon.
Later that night, however, an operation by Cameroon’s security forces saw the release of the three kidnapped students.
The raid on the separatist fighters’ hideout also saw the death of two and arrest of one of them. They however again, denied any involvement in the attack.
While today’s attack like previous attacks on schools in Kumba has gotten a lot of criticism, many are of the opinion that it in no way makes the opposing side, soldiers, any better.
While the government may have multiplied campaigns to see into it that a few schools resume in the troubled regions, the efforts in no way restore the ‘sanity’ lost and have failed to undo the wrongs witnessed since the start of the crisis.
The blood of innocent school children may be on the heads of a few individuals but that of the thousands of innocent civilians killed would surely rest on those of all belligerents involved.
Till the powers that be step up and do the right thing, all the vulnerable will remain left with is more deaths, arrests, illegal detention and torture in the hands of separatist fighters and soldiers.
Till the right action is taken, what remains certain is that the innocent and god forbid, more student will continue to pay the price for a war they know nothing about.
For as the old-time adage goes, when two elephants fight, the grass suffers.
Mimi Mefo Info