A suspected Anglophone separatist attack left seven people dead and seven others wounded in Mamfé (Southwest Region) overnight from Thursday, December 7, to Friday, December 8. The suspected separatists reportedly launched the attack on a police station in the city; six of the separatists were killed by Cameroonian police in the exchange of fire, while one police officer was killed. A heightened security presence and consequent traffic disruptions are expected in the coming weeks in the Anglophone regions (Southwest Region; Northwest Region) as part of a continued government crackdown on separatist unrest. Violent clashes and displacement of local residents are likely to continue into the foreseeable future.
President Paul Biya declared war on Anglophone separatists over the weekend of December 2-3. Locals have accused the military of engaging in human rights abuses as part of the government's crackdown on unrest in Anglophone regions in past months, leading to thousands of refugees fleeing into the forest and into neighboring Nigeria. Furthermore, reports say frequent checkpoints have limited commerce within the regions and have caused significant transportation disruptions.
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. 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, when secessionists unilaterally proclaimed independence in the region. Some Anglophone residents, conversely, have demanded better integration into mainstream Cameroonian society and politics and have called for an end to the political and economic marginalization of the regions.
The recent unrest prompted the US Embassy in Yaoundé to issue an advisory to its citizens and embassy staff in early October to exercise caution when traveling to the Southwest and Northwest regions. Similarly, the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) released a travel warning in early December advising against all travel to the Southwest Region's Bakassi Peninsula, and all nonessential travel to Bamenda (Northwest Region).
Individuals in Cameroon are advised to closely monitor the situation, adhere to advice issued by local authorities and their home governments, and avoid protests or large gatherings due to the risk of associated violence.
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