More than 30 villagers were killed in western Cameroon in a weekend attack by a rival ethnic group, the Presbyterian Church, a local NGO and a military source announced on Monday (June 27).
The massacre, during which men, women and children were burned and mutilated, was perpetrated on Saturday and Sunday in the village of Bakinjaw in the commune of Akwaya, near the Nigerian border, assured, by phone, Reverend Fonki Samuel Forba, spokesperson for the Presbyterian Church of Cameroon. “More than 30 people were killed”he added.
This tragedy took place in the South West region, one of the two English-speaking regions of Cameroon, where a very deadly conflict has pitted armed separatist groups against the security forces for more than five years, whose civilians are the main victims. But nothing seems, for the moment, to link the massacre to this war, according to the sources contacted by Agence France-Presse who have all confirmed the same circumstances and the results.
“It all started with a land dispute between the Oliti and the Messaga Ekol of Akwaya (…) on April 29, the Oliti attacked and killed several Messaga Ekol in their farms, the Oliti then mobilized and received the support of armed men they had hired and they launched very violent, inhumane and destructive attacks against the Ekol Messaga »then said Reverend Forba in a statement. “In these attacks, houses were burned and people burned in their homes, some were also beheaded”specifies, for its part, the Presbyterian Church.
Five Nigerians are among the dead, according to the statement, which contains photos of the corpses of a dozen victims, including those of children, lying on the dirt floor of a village, some charred or mutilated. The Presbyterian Church assures that the pictures were taken in the village after the attack. “Armed men launched an attack on the Messaga community, young people, women, children and even old people were killed. Some were killed in their homes, others on their way to the fields.”specified, for his part, the officer of the armye.
“There is an inter-community war that has been going on for years in Akwaya. The Oliti, who live in the center [du district] of Akwaya, are regularly victims of attacks from neighboring populations. They rioted and that’s what led to the bloodbath.”assured the head of a local NGO.
Frequent conflicts between ethnic groups
Conflicts between communities or ethnic groups are frequent in Cameroon, but the deadliest are located in the far north of the country. At the end of December 2021, at least 44 people had been killed and 111 injured in two weeks in the Far North region, landlocked between Nigeria, Chad and Niger, an area where these clashes are relatively frequent on both sides of the borders.
The North-West and South-West regions have been the scene, for more than five years, of a deadly conflict between armed groups demanding the independence of a state they call the“Ambazonia” and security forces massively deployed by the power of President Paul Biya, 89, who has ruled Cameroon with an iron fist for nearly forty years.
Part of the English-speaking minority in this French-dominated country feels ostracized and marginalized. The conflict has killed more than 6,000 people since the end of 2016 and forced more than a million people to move, according to the NGO International Crisis Group (ICG). The rebels, like the soldiers and the police, are regularly accused by international NGOs and the UN of committing abuses and crimes against civilians. On Monday, the international NGO Human Rights Watch (HRW) again deplored in a report that the separatist rebels are committing “serious human rights violations” in the North West and South West. She also accused “government forces” of the same violations.