Suspected Anglophone separatists carried out attacks against security forces in the city of Kumba (Meme department, Southwest region) overnight December 9-10. According to local sources, the assailants attacked two military convoys in the city. Three of the attackers were killed by Cameroonian security forces in the subsequent exchanges of fire, while five soldiers were wounded. A heightened security presence has been deployed in both the Northwest and Southwest Anglophone regions. Violent clashes and displacements of local residents are likely to continue into the foreseeable future.
Anglophone separatists have launched several attacks on Cameroonian soldiers in recent weeks, killing 11 soldiers since early November. Most recently, on December 7-8 in Mamfé (Southwest region), six assailants and one police officer were killed. 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 disrupted 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, when secessionists unilaterally proclaimed independence in the region. The ongoing unrest has prompted the US Embassy in Yaoundé to issue an advisory to its citizens and embassy staff to exercise caution when traveling to the two regions. Similarly, the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has released a travel warning 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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