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AFCON: Maximum security in Cameroon anglophone war-torn region

People watch the trophy tour pass by in the streets of Yaounde on January 5, 2022. The Africa Cup of Nations starts on January 9, 2022 in Cameroon after a postponement in 2021   -  
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As the countdown to the opening ceremony of the 33rd edition of the Africa Cup of Nations continues, Cameroon mobilizes large numbers of security forces to ensure security.

The Africa Cup of nations will begin in Cameroon on Sunday, January 9. Among the 6 stadiums that will host the matches of the competition, the stadium of Limbé where group F will evolve is located in the South-West region.

The South-West region is one of the 2 English-speaking territories in the country. Since 2017, the Anglophone regions are torn by a conflict opposing separatists and the army.

To ensure no separatist attack threatens the games of Tunisia, Mali, Mauritania and Gambia, which form group F, the military and security forces have been posted in the region.

The move that was strategically necessary according to Agbor Balla, a human rights defender. "Imagine what would happen if a player, a CAF official is killed or kidnapped, it would lead to a diplomatic problem. These are things that the government wants to avoid", he says.

If separatists have called for a shutdown in the city during the tournament, the Africa Cup of nations is a long awaited-event for the football-loving country. It is no difference here, in the English-speaking regions. Despite the context, residents like Boniface Forbing are eager for the competition to start: "The people will be happy! They want to see Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mané, even Riyad Mahrez who plays with Manchester city."

Bafoussam, Douala, Garoua, Olembe and Yaoundé, the five host cities are all adorned with flags of the different delegations taking part in the competition. In Douala, the economic capital of the country everything is ready. Security crews have even been increased in the airport area and along the main roads. All is done for the football lovers to peacefully enjoy of the tournament.

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