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Cameroon: Four wounded in Bamenda Nov 18-19 /update 1

Found wounded overnight in Bamenda on November 18-19 during reported exchange of gunfire, including one police officer

TIMEFRAME expected from 11/19/2017, 12:00 AM until 11/26/2017, 11:59 PM (Africa/Douala). COUNTRY/REGION Bamenda

Event

Four people, including a police officer, have reportedly been wounded overnight on November Saturday 18 – Sunday 19 in Bamenda, capital of Northwest region. According to local sources, a police officer was shot in the vicinity of the Food Market during an exchange of gunfire with suspected separatist activists opposed to security forces; two civilians were also wounded in the incident. Another woman was apparently shot during the night near Hospital Roundabout, in what may have been a separate incident. Details remain limited.

An increased security presence is likely throughout in Bamenda and across the Northwest region as large-scale separatist protests and anti-military attacks continue.

Context

Bamenda has been at the centre of recent unrest and violence in Anglophone Cameroon. Most recently, four improvised explosive devices (IED) detonated in Bamenda overnight November 12-13. The government has responded with a heightened security presence, including the implementation on November 8 of a curfew in Mezam department (Northwest region) from 22:00 to 05:00 (local time) until November 23, as well as the imposition of additional security measures in Buea (Southwest region), effective until further notice; the new rules prohibit the use of commercial motorbikes from 19:00 to 06:00 and restrict the sale and use of firearms, among other measures. These restrictions followed a string of attacks in the region, including the killing of at least four members of Cameroonian security forces.

The recent unrest prompted the US Embassy in Yaoundé to advise its citizens and embassy staff to defer all nonessential travel to the Southwest and Northwest regions. Similarly, the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) released a travel warning advising against all travel to the Southeast region's Bakassi Peninsula and all nonessential travel to Bamenda (Northwest region) and Buea (Southwest region).

Simmering resentment that dates back to the period of independence has resurfaced within the minority Anglophone community in Cameroon’s Northwest and Southwest regions over the past year, sparked by the central government's decision in November 2016 to not translate a law into English. The period since November 2016 has been marked by the closure of all English-speaking schools, strikes, unrest, and sporadic violence. Tensions between English and French-speaking communities have escalated considerably since October 1, 2017, when secessionists unilaterally proclaimed independence in the region. Others protesters, conversely, have demanded better integration into mainstream Cameroonian society and politics and an end to the political and economic marginalization of the regions.

Advice

Individuals in Cameroon are advised to closely monitor the situation, adhere to advice issued by local authorities or their home governments, and avoid protests or large gatherings due to the risk of associated violence.

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