Cameroon’s military said civilians this week buried scores of separatist fighters in mass graves after troops launched raids on rebel strongholds in the country’s western regions. A separatist spokesman accused Cameroon’s military of executing their captured fighters, which the military denies.
A video widely shared on the social media showed in Guzang, a village in Cameroon’s English-speaking North-West region, digging a mass grave for eight bodies. The people in the video say seven of the corpses they are burying were separatist fighters and one was a civilian.
Cameroon’s military confirmed Thursday that civilians buried separatist fighters killed by government troops in Guzang. The military said it conducted raids in the past week in North-Western towns and villages including Guzang, Batibo, Wum, Ndu, Kumbo and Bafut, where separatists were attacking and harassing civilians.
Cameroonian authorities blamed anglophone separatists for kidnappings for ransom, disrupting traffic, and attacks on public buildings controlled by the central government in Yaounde.
The military said more than 40 fighters, including three self-proclaimed separatist generals, were killed in the raids.
Capo Daniel is deputy defense chief of the Ambazonia Defense Forces, one of the separatist groups in Cameroon’s English-speaking North-West and South-West regions. He acknowledged that fighters were killed but did not say how many. Daniel said Cameroonian government troops committed gross human rights violations against fighters including the troops killed in Guzang.
“Six of those fighters in Guzang, including one civilian, were all captured alive, their hands were all tied behind their backs before they were executed,” Dianel said. “In a second location, still in Guzang, four soldiers [fighters] were captured, their hands tied behind their backs, two of them later died of bullet wounds, another one was executed in the Guzang market square. The Cameroon military attack against our freedom fighters in Guzang is a war crime and is a crime against humanity.”
Daniel said fighters killed several government troops. He added that separatists will not surrender in their fight to gain what he calls the freedom of the English-speaking minority from the French-speaking majority Cameroon.
Cameroon’s military denied its troops were killed and that it committed crimes against fighters. The military said troops responded to protect civilians after fighters attacked civilians, shooting indiscriminately in the air.
Deben Tchoffo, governor of Cameroon’s English-speaking North-West region, where government troops attacked separatists this week, said Cameroon’s government will forgive fighters who drop their weapons and leave the bush, where he said separatists hide to commit atrocities against civilians.
“There is no need for somebody to go to the bush to express himself politically, socially,” Tchoffo said. “From the instructions given to us we are going at the grassroots levels to reinforce he fight against the circulation of ammunition [war weapons] in the region and make sure all those that are still keeping them [weapons] are brought to book and prosecuted.”
Separatists in English-speaking western Cameroon launched their rebellion in 2017 after what they said was years of discrimination by the country’s French-speaking majority.
The conflict has killed more than 3,300 people and displaced more than a half million according to the United Nations.