Cameroonian soldiers sing and dance during a visit by senior officers in Mabass, northern Cameroon, February 16, 2015. Boko Haram militants kidnapped some 80 people from the village on January 18, according to the Cameroon army. Picture taken February 16, 2015. REUTERS/Bate Felix Tabi Tabe (CAMEROON – Tags: CONFLICT MILITARY POLITICS)
Cameroon’s army on Wednesday said it had killed three people in the capital of the country’s English-speaking North West region on the same day that the education minister visited the area, with tensions spiking as children return to school.
Separatists in the region say the education system marginalises anglophone pupils and have decreed a boycott of schools in the areas they lay claim to.
Three people were “neutralised” after having “burst into the city” of Bamenda in a car with three others on Tuesday, army spokesman Didier Badjeck told AFP.
According to a witness, numerous shots were heard Tuesday around the hotel where Education Minister Youssouf Adidja Alim was staying during a visit to the city to coincide with the reopening of schools.
A source close to Alim said the occupants of the vehicle had been “spotted and repelled” before they could reach the minister.
Separatist unrest in Cameroon’s two minority English-speaking regions — North-West and South-West — has left scores dead and displaced about 200,000 people since late 2016.
Years of resentment at perceived discrimination at the hands of Cameroon’s majority French speakers have led to almost daily acts of violence and retribution, triggering an army crackdown.
On Monday seven pupils and a headmaster were kidnapped by armed men at a school in Bafut, near Bamenda. Two students and the school head were freed on Tuesday, according to information obtained by AFP.
Some secessionists have said on social media that they could not guarantee the security of children who returned to school in defiance of the boycott.