A Tragic Night in Egbekaw
In the heart of the night, a horrifying attack unfolded in the village of Egbekaw, situated in the south-west region of western Cameroon. Around twenty people, including women and children, lost their lives as a result of the attack by English-speaking separatists. The incident serves as a grim reminder of the prolonged conflict in the region.
Seven Years of Unending Conflict
The conflict in the North-West and South-West regions of Cameroon has been ongoing since the close of 2016. This enduring battle pits pro-independence armed groups against the nation’s security forces. Throughout these years, both sides have faced accusations of committing grave crimes against civilians, as reported by various international non-governmental organizations and the United Nations.
Official statements and tragic accounts
Victor Arrey-Nkongho, the Minister in charge of the Office of the President of the Republic, expressed his distress over the tragic incident, stating, “More than twenty men, women, and children have been killed, and it’s unacceptable.” The attack took place in the South-West region, which has been grappling with the devastating consequences of the separatist conflict.
According to Viang Mekala, the prefect of Manyu department, where Egbekaw is situated, the attackers, often referred to as “terrorists” by authorities, struck in the dead of night. Armed with firearms and traditional weapons, they carried out a ruthless assault that resulted in approximately twenty fatalities, with seven more individuals seriously injured. The attackers also set fire to approximately ten houses, leaving a trail of destruction in their wake.
A resident who requested anonymity for safety reasons described the terrifying event: “It was four in the morning. Young men with guns came and shot at the inhabitants who were asleep in their houses and set fire to a whole block of houses.” The situation remains dire, with rescuers struggling to identify some of the victims due to the extent of the damage and fire.
A Tense Anniversary Connection
The tragic attack occurred close to the anniversary of President Paul Biya’s accession to power, which takes place on November 6. The resident who provided an account of the event mentioned, “We think it’s linked to November 6, the anniversary of President Paul Biya’s accession to power,” adding that “a meeting of the RDPC (Rassemblement Démocratique du Peuple Camerounais, the all-powerful presidential party) was scheduled to take place nearby.”
Cameroon, with a population of approximately 30 million people, has been under the firm rule of its 90-year-old President, Paul Biya, for a remarkable 41 years. This devastating attack underscores the pressing need for a resolution to the ongoing conflict in the country.