Cameroon leader warns anglophone 'band of terrorists'

Yaound - Cameroon's President Paul Biya has denounced "repeated attacks by a band of terrorists" blamed for killing six members of the security forces in a secessionist campaign in anglophone regions.

"I learned with emotion of the murder of four Cameroonian soldiers and two policemen in the southwest of our country," Biya said late on Thursday on his return from an African Union-European Union summit in Ivory Coast.

"I think that things are now clear to everyone. Cameroon is the victim of repeated attacks by a band of terrorists claiming to be part of a secessionist movement," he charged in a national radio broadcast.

Mounting violence in the English-speaking west of the mainly francophone country claimed the lives of five police officers and five soldiers during the month of November, according to an official tally.

Resentment over perceived discrimination and a tough crackdown on separatist political forces has provoked secessionist demands in anglophone regions, which account for about a fifth of Cameroon's population of 22 million.

"Confronted with these acts of aggression, I would like to reassure the Cameroonian people that all steps are being taken to incapacitate these criminals and to make sure that peace and security are safeguarded over the whole extent of national territory," Biya declared.

The authorities have already imposed night-time curfews, restrictions on movement, raids and body searches, as well as a bid by the government in Yaounde to reach out to the anglophone community for political dialogue.

Biya has been president of the central African country since 1982, after serving as prime minister to founding president Ahmadou Ahidjo, who created a unified state out of territory that was divided between French and British colonial rulers before independence in 1960.

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