In the Southwest region of Cameroon, separatists have killed a local mayor in an ambush in which two soldiers were also wounded.
In a statement from Bernard Okalia Bilai the region’s governor, the Mayor of Mamfe, Ashu Priestley Ojong, was killed by the “terrorist secessionists” on Sunday morning. Furthermore, he said the incident occurred at approximately 500km (300 miles) from Cameroon’s capital, Yaounde.
The attack on the mayor’s convoy happened as he was travelling from Mamfe to the nearby village of Eshobi. The mayor went there after receiving a tip-off that some rebels would be laying down their arms.
Ojong is among a few senior elected officials to be killed in the conflict between Cameroon’s army and English-speaking militias. He was elected in February in legislative and municipal polls the separatist rebels wanted to be boycotted.
English speakers account for nearly one-fifth of Cameroon’s population of 24 million, who are majority French-speaking. The conflict began soon after the government cracked down violently on peaceful protests. The protests were by lawyers and teacher who complained of marginalisation by the French-speaking majority.
Years of grievances at perceived discrimination snowballed into a declaration of independence in the Anglophone regions in October 2017, followed by a government crackdown.
The declaration has not been recognised internationally. President Paul Biya, in power for 37 of his 87 years, has also refused demands to return to a federal system.
However, the Cameroon government has lately decentralised some of its powers. This was after a national dialogue on the anglophone crisis which was boycotted by the separatists.
Rights groups have accused both sides of atrocities in the conflict. The conflicts in Cameroon has left more than 3,000 dead, closed schools and forced 700,000 people to flee their homes.