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Armed Youths Attack Police Stations in Cameroon Capital

FILE - People shop at Mokolo market in Yaounde, Cameroon, Oct. 10. 2011.

FILE - People shop at Mokolo market in Yaounde, Cameroon, Oct. 10. 2011.

At least one person was killed and several dozen wounded Thursday as hundreds of armed Cameroonian youths attacked police stations in Mokolo, one of Yaounde's largest markets. The youths — some carrying locally made guns, machetes, and stones — were protesting what they say are excesses and human rights abuses by the police.

Businesswoman Dzekem Maria, who is among the protesters, say they are against police brutality and extortion.

"The police come here, harass people, beat people and we are very angry with them because they make like that and kill some people. The other day they came here and killed one young man," she said.

The most senior police officer in the area, Forsua Martin Claude, says the youths were avenging the death of a suspect who was wounded in a shootout with the police. He says the suspect had stolen money from a lady in the market and resisted police attempts to arrest him.

Fear of more attacks

Claude says police fear the attacks may extend to other markets in the capital city.

He says it is intolerable to defy public security and they are going to arrest all criminals. Claude says he has asked for more policemen to be deployed to the market.

The attacks continued spreading from the police station to police posts in the area. Although most of the attackers were eventually pushed back, there are still pockets of resistance in the market.

A senior government official in the area, Yampem Ousman, says he hopes business can quickly get back to normal.

He says thanks to the energetic action taken by the police, peace is returning to the area and business activity has to resume soon.

Cameroonians have often accused their police of corrupt practices.

Last month Transparency International reported Cameroon was one of the most corrupt countries in sub-Saharan Africa, and said its police are among the most corrupt professional groups.