Buea - A young man from Cameroon's English-speaking region was shot dead by security forces on the eve of an expected symbolic declaration of independence by anglophone separatists, medical and security forces told AFP Sunday.
"They fired at him during a security operation" in the city of Kumba, a nurse who requested anonymity told AFP. The incident was confirmed by a security source and several local residents contacted by phone.
Kumba is known as a rebellious city since the start of protests by the anglophone minority last November, with clashes erupting between security forces and the local population.
The majority of Cameroon's 22 million people are French-speaking, while about a fifth is English-speaking.
The legacy dates back to 1961, when a formerly British entity, Southern Cameroons, united with Cameroon after its independence from France in 1960.
The anglophone minority has long complained about disparities in sharing out Cameroon's oil wealth.
'Everyone is afraid'
On Sunday October 1, the date of the official reunification of the anglophone and francophone parts of Cameroon, the anglophone separatists are expected to make a symbolic proclamation of independence for Ambazonia, the name of the state they want to create.
On Thursday, the Cameroonian authorities announced a temporary curb on travel and public meetings across the Southwest Region, adding to a curfew in the neighbouring Northwest Region, also English-speaking.
In Buea, the southwest's main city, the streets were mostly deserted early Sunday as security forces patrolled the area including where the separatists are expected to gather, an AFP correspondent reported.
"I can't go out, they asked us to stay home," said one city resident who identified herself just as Nancy.
"Everyone is afraid... it's not good," added another resident Thom.
Since November 2016, the anglophone minority has been protesting against perceived discrimination, especially in education and the judicial system, where they say the French language and traditions are being imposed on them, even though English is one of the country's two official languages.
Most anglophone campaigners want the country to resume a federalist system -- an approach that followed the 1961 unification but was later scrapped in favour of a centralised government run from the capital Yaounde. A hardline minority is calling for secession.
Both measures are opposed by the country's long-ruling president, 84-year-old Paul Biya.