Yaounde – Two civilians were killed in Cameroon after being shot by soldiers, the army said on Wednesday, the latest violence in a region hit by bloody conflict between anglophone separatists and the state.
The army said that the “unfortunate incident” happened on Monday in Nylbat-Andek in country’s North West – one of Cameroon’s two English-speaking regions – after three soldiers disobeyed orders and attacked villagers.
The men, acting “in violation of their instructions, attacked some residents on whom one of the soldiers unfortunately opened fire”, said Colonel Cyrille Atonfack, communications officer at the ministry of defence, in a press statement.
The victims were two women aged 47 and 49, the statement said.
The army said the soldiers were arrested and an investigation had been opened.
The North West and South West regions of Cameroon have suffered a bloody conflict between anglophone separatists and the state for years.
English speakers make up a majority of the regions’ populations in predominantly French-speaking Cameroon, which President Paul Biya has ruled with an iron fist since 1982.
Anglophone resentment at perceived discrimination snowballed into the declaration of an independent state in 2017 — the “Federal Republic of Ambazonia” — an entity that is not recognised internationally.
Biya, 89, has resisted calls for more autonomy in the regions and responded with a crackdown on the separatists.
The violence has claimed more than 6 000 lives and displaced around a million people, according to the International Crisis Group (ICG) think tank.
International monitors and the United Nations say both sides have committed abuses, including crimes against civilians.
In February 2020, at least 23 people were killed in a military raid on the village of Ngarbuh in the North West, 15 of whom were children, according to UN figures.