Three Cameroon soldiers killed in restive anglophone region

(iStock)
(iStock)

Douala - Cameroon's national youth holiday was marred by violence on Sunday, with three soldiers killed and a local official feared kidnapped by suspected separatists in the country's restive English-speaking regions.

Dozens of people have been killed in the west African country's two anglophone regions since October after a violent crackdown on protests against the mainly French-speaking government.

Authorities imposed a week-long curfew in the troubled areas on Saturday, citing fears of an "imminent" attack by separatists after numerous online threats.

Army spokesperson Colonel Didier Badjeck on Sunday said the three soldiers were killed in the southwestern village of Kembong, adding that there had been some "scattered attacks".

The separatists had made threats on social media to disrupt celebrations on February 11, the date a referendum was held in 1961 on whether the English-speaking regions would join French-speaking Cameroon.

In 1966 the government turned the day into a youth festival.

On Sunday there were also fears that the deputy head of the anglophone Batibo region, Namata Diteng, had been kidnapped after his burnt-out car was found in an isolated area.

"I do not know if he was actually kidnapped or if he was able to flee," said local official Joseph Mbah-Ndam.

He added that the parade in Batibo for Cameroon Youth Day, which would have been organised by Diteng, did not take place.

"People have gone home in fear of possible violence in retaliation from the army," Mbah-Ndam said.

KEEP UPDATED on the latest news from around the continent by subscribing to our FREE newsletter, Hello Africa.

FOLLOW News24 Africa on Twitter and Facebook. 

Cameroon's southwest and northwest regions are home to an English-speaking minority that accounts for about a fifth of the population.

Many English-speakers have accused the francophone majority of discrimination and that has fuelled a separatist movement.

In October, separatists declared the two anglophone regions as the self-proclaimed republic of "Ambazonia", prompting a forceful reaction by the government.

Twenty-six police and soldiers have been killed in the violence, according to an AFP count based on statements given by officials in the capital Yaounde.

President Paul Biya, who has held power since 1982, on Saturday called on young Cameroonians to be "patriotic internet users" and said the situation in the anglophone areas had improved after "troubles which sometimes sparked acts of violence".

His speech came after a string of grisly video clips circulated online alleging atrocities against separatists by Cameroonian soldiers, who have strongly denied responsibility.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
Lockdown For
DAYS
HRS
MINS
Voting Booth
Who do you think is going to win the 2020 US election?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
Biden is going to take it
47% - 7899 votes
It's four more years for Trump
53% - 9065 votes
Vote
ZAR/USD
16.28
(-0.44)
ZAR/GBP
21.17
(-0.05)
ZAR/EUR
19.27
(-0.29)
ZAR/AUD
11.57
(-0.09)
ZAR/JPY
0.16
(-0.18)
Gold
1897.80
(-0.02)
Silver
24.17
(-1.09)
Platinum
882.00
(-1.45)
Brent Crude
41.25
(0.00)
Palladium
2357.22
(-0.42)
All Share
55201.75
(-0.25)
Top 40
50544.82
(-0.29)
Financial 15
10734.67
(-0.52)
Industrial 25
74662.93
(-0.32)
Resource 10
52483.98
(-0.15)
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes morningstar logo