400 killed in Cameroon violence – Amnesty

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At least 400 people have been killed by both the security forces and the armed separatists in an escalating violence in Cameroon’s English speaking Northwest and Southwest regions, Amnesty International said.

The London-based human rights organisation, in a report on Tuesday, said it had recorded more than 260 incidents, including kidnappings, killings of security forces and armed separatists, as well as destruction of private properties by both sides since the beginning of this year.

It said it had documented the deaths of more than 160 members of the security forces at the hands of armed separatists since late 2016, noting, however, that the toll could be much higher as some attacks went underreported.

It said it had documented the deaths of more than 160 members of the security forces at the hands of armed separatists since late 2016, noting, however, that the toll could be much higher as some attacks went underreported.

The group further said it had authenticated two videos it received last week; one showing graphic images of a beheaded security officer, adding that forensic experts verified the clips.

The group further said it had authenticated two videos it received last week; one showing graphic images of a beheaded security officer, adding that forensic experts verified the clips.

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Another video captured a voice of a man saying he had taken the gendarme’s rifle.

The individual identifies himself as a member of the “Ambazonia Liberation Forces;” an armed group that has been fighting for the secession of the English speakers from the predominantly French speaking country.

Anglophone crises

The division between Cameroon’s French-speaking majority and its English-speaking minority has its roots in the colonial era – when the former German colony was divided between Britain and France after World War I.

Cameroon later became a federation of two states – one English-speaking, the other French-speaking – under one president. Some people in the Anglophone regions want to return to this model, while others are calling for an independent, breakaway state. Both ideas have been ruled out by President Paul Biya.

While there have been long-held grievances among some, this recent wave of protests by English-speaking Cameroonians, which began in 2016 against perceived discrimination and dominance by the Francophone majority, has increasingly turned violent.

At least 21,000 people have fled across the border into Nigeria, and the UN estimates that a further 160,000 are displaced within Cameroon. Many others are still hiding in the forest.

Aid agencies’ efforts to assist civilians have been frustrated by the struggle to access conflict areas.

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