The rate at which separatist fighters are killing Cameroon’s state forces in the country’s troubled North-West and South-West Regions is very alarming.
Of late, several casualties have been recorded on government side, months after the likes of Minister Atanga Nji Paul declared victory and said there is a rapid return to normalcy.
In the last few weeks, video footages have emerged which show armed separatist fighters ambushing and killing state forces in large numbers in some parts of the Anglophone regions.
In fact, the manner in which the rebels are carrying out the operations is akin to kids playing video games.
In some cases, the soldiers are stripped, bound and pushed to the ground where a number of separatist fighters stand over them pointing guns at their bodies. Some bear vicious injuries on their backs and arms. Others are blown off by improvised explosive devices, shot, killed, their heads chopped off and their bodies dismembered.
Last month, amba boys almost overran a gendarmerie brigade in Kumba, a town in Cameroon’s South West Region. With the aid of a hand-propelled rocket launchers, the rebels destroyed the security post that hosts state forces. On June 27, a day after the attacks on the gendarmerie brigade, a well-armed separatist squad blew off an army patrol vehicle with the aid of locally assembled explosive devices.
Several state forces died in the attack. Still in Kumba, two police officers were kidnapped by ambazonia fighters on July 7, 2021. With their fate unknown, we recall that armed men in Belo, boyo Division of the North West Region had on July 7 ambushed states forces, killed an undisclosed number of them and carried away sophisticated weapons and paraphernalia.
When armed men attacked a security checkpoint in Njavnyuy in Bui Division on July 9, one police officer was gunned down and three others gravely injured. The number of state forces who died in an attack in Alakuma Mankon on July 11 is now only a matter of conjecture.
In a show of force and bravado, separatist fighters ramped up attacks against state forces.
After burning down an army base in Bali Subdivision on July 14, the separatist fighters aboard motorbikes crossed into Babadjou, dressed in military fatigue, and killed two soldiers, wounding one other. The amba boys proceeded to gun down a soldiers in Pinyin, Santa Subdivision.
Two days later, amba boys detonated an IED, destroying the building hosting the Ntarinkon gendarmerie brigade and shattering military vehicles stationed within the premises.
It was a bloody Sunday, July 18 in Bali when amba boys detonated an IED that immobilised a police van. All five police offers on board were then killed by the armed men and their weapons taken away.
Mimi Mefo info recalls that on June 19, separatists killed three gendarme officers in Ngoketunjia Division. Two of the three killed were decapitated.
The attack followed the murders of two soldiers and the Ndian Divisional delegate of Economy, Planning and Regional Development in the South West Region. Five other divisional delegates in Ndian division are still in the captivity of armed separatists in Ndian Division.
“Three gendarmes who were at their checkpoint were attacked and killed” by separatists, Ngoketunjia SDO Quetong Handerson Kongeh told AFP, adding that two of the three killed had been decapitated. A fourth managed to escape.
He said a large number of rebels overwhelmed the gendarmes who “could not defend themselves.”
The bitter independence struggle by English-speaking rebels has been raging in Cameroon’s Northwest and Southwest regions since 2017.
Members of the anglophone minority in the country’s westernmost provinces have long complained of being marginalized by the French-speaking majority and 88-year-old President Paul Biya, in power for 38 years. From 2017, their demonstrations devolved into a bloody conflict.
The rebels have extended their violent attacks against police and soldiers to civilians.
UN and international aid groups say both army troops and Anglophone rebels have committed abuses and crimes against civilians.
In recent time, it is increasingly clear that the separatists are having a upper hand the security forces appear demoralised at the battle front. It is now time for President Paul Biya to eat the humble pie and find a solution to this crisis.