Skirmishes between separatist militants and security forces occurred in Buea (Southwest region) on Monday, October 1, coinciding with the one-year anniversary of a symbolic declaration of independence by Anglophone separatists. Gunshots were heard in several neighborhoods of the city. The situation remains tense as of Tuesday, with incumbent President Paul Biya set to visit the area as part of his political campaign ahead of the October 7 presidential elections. Local authorities have ordered the closure of all businesses in anticipation of the visit and have banned all forms of private and public transportation. According to local sources, the majority of residents are indoors as of Tuesday, with soldiers patrolling the streets.
Protests and associated violence in defiance of the orders remain possible on Tuesday; any such events will likely be met with a forceful response from the security forces.
Tensions between the country's minority English-speaking community and the national authorities in the Northwest and Southwest regions are high. The period since November 2016 has been marked by the closure of English-speaking schools, strikes, unrest, and sporadic violence. These tensions have escalated considerably since October 2017, when secessionists unilaterally proclaimed independence in the region. The fighting has forced tens of thousands of civilians to flee over the border into Nigeria. At least 400 civilians, as well as 172 members of security forces have reportedly been killed in the violent unrest thus far in 2018.
President Biya is visiting the Anglophone region for the first time since the crisis started, and five days before the presidential election in which he seeks to extend his 35 years in power. Anglophone separatists have vowed to disrupt Sunday's polls.
Individuals in Northwest and Southwest regions, particularly in Buea, are advised to closely monitor the situation, adhere to any instructions issued by local authorities (e.g. curfews), and avoid all protests or public gatherings due to the risk of violence. On a separate note, some Western governments advise against travel to the Far North region as well as other areas bordering Nigeria, Chad, and the Central African Republic (CAR); travel to these areas should only be considered with appropriate security protocols in place.
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