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Last Updated on February 18, 2020

Cameroon Massacre: At least 14 Children Killed

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The United Nations has reported as many as 22 villagers, including 14 children dead in a massacre in the anglophone area of Cameroon. An opposition party is blaming the killings on the army.

Armed men carried out the massacre on Friday in the village of Ntumbo in the Northwest Region, James Nunan, a local official with the UN’s humanitarian coordination agency OCHA, said up to 22 civilians were killed, including a pregnant woman. Nunan added that 14 children – including nine under age five – were among those killed. Eleven of the children were girls.

An eyewitness confirmed the massacre and said he helped bury 21 bodies in “four graves in four different compounds” with the help of an associate. The eyewitness added that nine houses were also set ablaze and an unknown number of villagers displaced. 

Separatists in the regions have been fighting the central government for three years.

One of the country’s two main opposition parties, the Movement for the Rebirth of Cameroon (MRC), issued a statement saying about the massacre. The statement reads: “The dictatorial regime and the supreme head of the security and defence forces are chiefly responsible for these crimes.”

A key figure in the separatist movement, lawyer Agbor Mballa, in a Facebook post also accused the state defence forces of carrying out the killings.

An army official denied the allegations simply the news is false. No other official comment was immediately available.

Thousands dead even before the massacre

The conflict between Cameroon’s army and English-speaking fighters seeking to form a breakaway state began after the government cracked down violently on peaceful protesters complaining of being marginalised by the French-speaking majority.

Related: Cameroon goes to the Poll Amidst Opposition Boycott

The conflict has forced half a million people to flee and presented President Paul Biya with his biggest threat in nearly 40 years of rule.

The three-year conflict has claimed more than 3,000 lives and forced more than 700,000 people to flee their homes.

Friday’s killings followed elections on February 9 that were marred by violence in the regions blamed both on separatists and security forces.

Armed separatists prevented people from voting by threatening punishments, while government soldiers were a heavy presence. 

Separatists kidnapped more than 100 people and torched properties in the run-up to the elections.

Meanwhile, the MRC refused to field a single candidate after its leader, Maurice Kamto, who spent nine months in jail after his defeat in 2018 presidential elections called for a boycott of this month’s election.

The government is yet to announce the results of the elections or turnout figures.

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