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August 21, 2013

Cameroon Closes Border After Shooting Incident

by Moki Edwin Kindzeka

Cameroon has closed its borders with Central African Republic, after Seleka rebel fighters raided the Cameroonian border town of Toktoyo, killing the Cameroonian border police chief during the attack.
 
Witnesses say fighters from the Seleka rebel coalition, who seized control of Central African Republic in March, attacked military police installations Tuesday in Cameroon's Kadei Division.
 
The Seleka fighters gunned down the Assistant Police Superintendent Felix Ndalle Ngando as other police fled or hid in terror. The attack appeared to stem from a disagreement between the Seleka commander and the police chief.
 
Cameroonian soldiers reportedly were able to fight them off, but Seleka fighters later returned with reinforcements. During the raid, Seleka fighters reportedly freed one of their own who had been detained in Cameroon.
 
The governor of Cameroon's East Region, Ivaha Diboua Samuel Dieudonne said this was "an isolated case of irresponsible behavior on the part of wayward Seleka soldiers".  

"We have taken all necessary measures to be able to handle such situations,” he said, and he called for local Cameroonians to cooperate with police and share information related to Seleka-rebel activities.
 
The governor said the border would be closed for the time being. The border closure could have serious impacts for the local economy.  
 
Locals say insecurity along the border since the March rebel takeover in Central African Republic has put a damper on market activity and turned several localities into ghost towns.
 
A key source of tension has been Cameroon's continued refusal to turn over soldiers loyal to the ousted president, Francois Bozize, who fled into Cameroon after the rebel takeover. Some of those soldiers have sought refuge in barracks in eastern Cameroon. Many have refused to return to Central African Republic, saying they fear for their lives.
 
There also are concerns the crisis in Central African Republic has increased the flow of weapons in the region, something that could further destabilize eastern Cameroon.  

Ntaryike Divine contributed reporting from Douala, Cameroon.