Seven people died overnight during a botched raid by presumed separatists on a police station in a restive a restive English-speaking region of Cameroon, security sources said on Friday.
The attack, in which a policeman died and six attackers were killed, targeted a police station in Mamfe, a city in the Southwest region, according to a security official who was speaking by phone from Douala.
“A policeman was killed and seven others wounded. Among the attackers, six people were shot dead” when the police returned fire, he said.
He said the gunmen had tried to flee in a police pickup but the vehicle was stopped at a security checkpoint.
The toll was confirmed by another security source, and witnesses reported hearing “intense gunfire” in Mamfe, one of the epicentres of the anglophone crisis.
The attack took place just hours before Cameroon’s defence minister went to Buea, the main city in the English-speaking southwest, to oversee a memorial ceremony for two policemen and four soldiers killed by suspected separatists in the Mamfe area last month.
Over the past year, there has been mounting tension in Cameroon’s Southwest and Northwest regions — home to anglophones who account for about a fifth of the West African nation’s population of 22 million.
English-speakers complain they have suffered decades of economic inequality and social injustice at the hands of the French-speaking majority, especially in education and the judiciary.
But calls for greater autonomy have been rejected by President Paul Biya whose government has led a crackdown on the separatist drive, imposing night-time curfews, restrictions on movement, raids and body searches.