By Eric Tataw – Washington DC, USA, Thursday, February 20, 2020.
An American diplomat said Wednesday, February 19, 2020, that the president of the Central African country of Cameroon, Paul Biya should be investigated by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for crimes against Humanity.
Herman J Cohen, a former United States Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs tweeted in reaction to the killings of at least forty-eight unarmed civilians in Ngar-buh, a quarter in Ntumbaw village in the Donga Mantung Division in the country’s North West.
“In the wake of this massacre of civilian women and children in Northwest #Cameroon’s Ntumbo-Ngarbuh quarter, I call on the International Criminal Court to investigate Paul Biya’s regime for crimes against humanity,” Herman J Cohen tweeted on his official handle.
A total of seventeen (17) children are now confirmed dead among forty-eight (48) civilians brutally murdered when elements of the Cameroon military raided the area on Valentine Day – Friday, February 14, 2020.
Pregnant women were among the victims of the massacre considered the largest in 2020. A breastfeeding mother was also killed together with her 4-month-old baby, family members have confirmed.
The victims were asleep when the soldiers though unprovoked broke into houses and started shooting indiscriminately at children and their parents, a youth who narrowly escaped the incident told National Telegraph.
Some of the victims were buried in four mass graves, sources say. Meantime, fresh statistics from Government School Ngarbuh III, a government-run school in the area where most of the children attended school released names and ages of some of its pupils killed in the incident.
Five other children taking refuge in a farmhouse some kilometers away from the area of the main incident were also killed and buried alongside their parents and seven youths, National Telegraph has confirmed. At least five houses were also burnt down while many were wounded.
The statistics from the school completely expose the government’s dishonesty, a victim said, referring to a statement from Cameroon’s Defense Ministry. He also insisted all 48 killed were civilians, adding there was no exchange with armed separatists in the area.
Minister Joseph Beti Assomo through his Communication Chief said, Monday, February 17, 2020, that soldiers didn’t attack the civilians. He only referred to the incident as an accident following an explosion from fuel during a gun battle between soldiers and armed separatists.
Residents, however, continue to insist that the attacks and killings were done by the military with the support of a group Fulanis. Andrew Jack Pendleton, a Senior Humanitarian Officer at UNOCHA based in Cameroon and who visited the area on Sunday, February 16, 2020, described the incident as “horrible”
A cultural group of people of the area – Wimbum Cultural and Development Association (WACUDA) circulated a flyer online of a candlelight vigil for the victims. The association categorically stated that toddlers and pregnant women were “massacred by military forces of Cameroon”
The Central African country has been battling to contain an armed conflict in its North West and South West now in its third year. Sisiku Ayuk Tabe Julius, referred to as President of Ambazonia, the new state rebels are battling to establish declared the Restoration of Independence for these regions in 2017.
At least, 14000 people have so far been killed in battles and military raids with over 400 villages burnt down. Thousands are held across various detention facilities, including Ayuk Tabe and nine others sentenced for life. Over two million remain displaced as refugees and IDPs since the beginning of the crisis.