Around twenty people, including women and children, were killed on Monday in a new attack on a village by English-speaking separatists in western Cameroon, where these rebels and the army have been fighting each other for seven years, the government said.
The tragedy occurred during the night in the village of Egbekaw (South-West region). "More than twenty men, women and children have been killed, it's unacceptable", Victor Arrey-Nkongho, Minister in charge of the Office of the President of the Republic, told state radio Mengot.
Since the end of 2016, a deadly conflict has pitted pro-independence armed groups against the security forces, each accused of crimes against civilians by international NGOs and the UN, in the North-West and South-West regions, populated mainly by the English-speaking minority of this predominantly French-speaking Central African country.
In the middle of the night, "the terrorists" attacked "using firearms and traditional weapons, leaving around twenty people dead and seven seriously injured, and around ten houses burnt down", Viang Mekala, the prefect of Manyu department, where Egbekaw is located, told state radio.
The state media attributed the attack to separatist rebels systematically referred to as "terrorists" by the authorities.-
Biya, 41 years in power -
"It happened at 4am. Young men with guns came and shot at the inhabitants who were asleep in their houses and set fire to a whole block of houses," a resident of the village, who requested anonymity for security reasons, told AFP by telephone.
"We've already pulled 23 people out of the rubble, some of whom we can't even recognise because of the fire", he continued.
"We think it's linked to 6 November, the anniversary of President Paul Biya's accession to power", said the resident, who added that "a meeting of the RDPC (Rassemblement Démocratique du Peuple Camerounais, the all-powerful presidential party) was scheduled to take place nearby".
Cameroon, which has a population of nearly 30 million, has been ruled with an iron fist for 41 years to the day by 90-year-old President Paul Biya.