The Cameroon government has reacted somewhat cautiously to the killing Monday of its soldiers in the disputed Bakassi Peninsular. In a statement late Tuesday night, the government said 21 of its citizens, including some soldiers had been killed.
Albert Njie Mbonde is a journalist with the Cameroon Radio and Television Service. From the capital, Yaoundé, he told VOA that ordinary Cameroonians are also expressing bitterness about the killings.
“The reaction came Tuesday night, which actually confirmed 21 Cameroonians dead, amongst them men of the Cameroon armed forces. I must say the reaction of government was much more prudent, not trying to flare tempers, not trying to go into deep thoughts about the circumstances under which the Cameroonians were killed. They simply said investigations have been opened and that a much more detailed reaction from government could only come after the investigation,” he said.
A Nigerian military spokesman reportedly said Nigerian soldiers were not involved in the killings and that the attackers could have been Nigerian criminals from nearby Niger Delta. Mbonde said Cameroon authorities also were careful about the identity of the killers.
“They say unknown men, equally being prudent that they weren’t dressed in any military uniform. That’s what the official communiqué of the presidency of the republic carried. And perhaps that’s why we say they are being more prudent talking of investigations that would be accelerated to actually identify who these killers are. Are they really of the Nigerian Armed force? If so, why not in uniform? Perhaps that’s what the investigation will have to actually prove to the Cameroonian authorities,” he said.
Mbonde said ordinary Cameroonians are disappointed by news of the killings.
“A reaction of bitterness and great disappointment because ever since the implementation of the ICJ (International Court of Justice) verdict started, especially with some territory being ceded to Cameroon, it was plenty of optimism that after years of a near Cold War, relations between Nigerian and Cameroon were going to improve. But whoever killed the Cameroonians along the Bakassi area tells the ordinary that there are still enemies around who are about straining relations between the two countries,” Mbonde said.
He said Cameroon is a peaceful country and would like to encourage the international community to look into the Bakassi issue again because he said the killings that it is far from over.