By Eric Tataw – Washington DC, USA, Wednesday , January 6, 2021.
Cameroon’s Defense Ministry confirmed, Wednesday January 6, 2021, an ambush on an administrative convoy, early Wednesday between Andek and Mbengwi villages of the country’s restive North West Region killed five, downplaying a former report of six deaths.
A military commander in the North West, Colonel Boum Bissue Raymond confirmed the news and said four soldiers and one civilian, the Momo Divisional Delegate for Communication, Rebecca Jeme died in the attack.
Five other persons were injured, guns and vehicles damaged and the bodies of three soldiers are still missing, according to the statement that also cites the outgoing Divisional Officer (DO) of Andek and the Brigade Commander among the injured.
Initial reports suggested the bomb explosion killed at least six persons, raising security concerns in the Central African country where a continental jamboree is due to start in 10 days.
The African Nations Championship runs from January 16 to February 7, 2021, and the mascot, TARA had toured the country’s South West in December where it is expected to drive up enthusiasm and bring the competition closer to the public especially in the crisis-hit city of Limbe which will host group D of the competition.
But, the incident, Wednesday indicates continuous reports of increased tension and confrontations in the country’s Anglophone regions in a conflict that has already killed over eighteen thousand people, according to activists.
Sources say an ambush was laid as the victims returned on a convoy accompanying the Senior Divisional Officer for Momo, Nicaise Fouda from installing two new Divisional Officers.
Cameroon is in a three-year-old armed conflict in its North West and South West where rebels have been battling the regular army to establish an independent state of Ambazonia.
The attack that many cite rebels is the worst on the government since the beginning of 2021, those familiar with the matter have said.
Since the beginning of the crisis, many houses have also been torched, thousands locked up under deplorable conditions in various detention facilities across the country, including Sisiku Ayuk Tabe Julius, President of the outlawed Ambazonia Interim Government.
At least over two million people are either internally displaced or are living in Nigeria and neighboring countries as refugees as violence continue to grow in these regions over the last few weeks, including systematic attacks on schools and unarmed civilians.
There are increasing concerns from many the violence could easily extend to Limbe and Buea where the Brave Warriors of Namibia are in Group D with fellow Southern Africans Chipolopolo of Zambia and the Taifa Stars of Tanzania and Guinea will be based.
Rebels have already warned they can’t guarantee the safety of any player in these cities where confrontations with government forces are likely to occur.
Multiple quarters have called on the world football governing body – FIFA and the Confederation of African Football – CAF to move matches from Limbe to any other region of the country other than the Anglophone regions, citing the security of players.
On Friday November 30, 2018, CAF Executive Committee met in Ghana’s capital, Accra, and stripped Cameroon off the hosting of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON), citing security concerns, among others.