Officials in Cameroon have ordered the military to hunt down separatist fighters whom authorities blame for planting bombs that killed four soldiers and a female journalist. The attack also injured three others.
Deben Tchoffo, governor of Cameroon’s North West region, says at about 1 am on Wednesday, roadside bombs exploded near a convoy of government officials being escorted by the military.
Tchoffo says the delegation was returning to the town of Mbengwi from the Njikwa and Andeck districts, where the officials went to officially install administrators recently appointed by President Paul Biya.
Tchoffo said the attack was carried out with improvised explosive devices planted by separatist fighters on a road near the English-speaking northwestern town of Mbengwi. He said the three people injured were government officials. Their injuries were classified as life threatening and they were rushed to hospitals. He said three troops are still missing and that there were huge material loses. Tchoffo added that the military has been deployed to the area to search for the perpetrators.
Fouda Etaba Benoit Nicaise, the most senior government official in the Momo administrative unit where Njikwa and Andeck are located, was unhurt. The government says he was the main target.
No one has claimed responsibility for the attack. A statement from Cameroon’s minister of communication Rene Emmanuel Sadi blames separatists.
The female journalist killed was Liwusi Rebecca Jeme, who was also the highest government communication official in the Momo administrative area.
Her boss, Louis Marie Begne, North West regional delegate of communication, condemned her killing.
He said Jeme will be remembered as a committed and highly professional journalist, adding that it is unfortunate that an innocent individual should be killed under such circumstances.
Jeme’s death has prompted condemnation from journalist associations, churches and NGOs.
Rosaline Obah, coordinator of the Cameroon Community Media Network, said it was imperative for both the military and the fighters to end the separatist crisis in the English-speaking regions, which has killed more than 3,000 people in the past four years.
Obah said journalists should never be targeted, neither by fighters nor government troops.
"We are there to report the news and say it as it is and in no way should we be considered as parties or actors in conflict. And so we condemn in very strong terms the killing of our colleague. We are by this encouraging a peaceful resolution of this crisis, using a non-violent approach and call on the parties to take to the dialogue table so that the casualties recorded that has involved one of us should be a thing of the past," Obah said.
Armed separatists have been fighting in the North West and South West regions since 2017 to create an English-speaking state.
The separatists complain of marginalization by Cameroon’s French-speaking majority. The U.N. says more than 500,000 people have been displaced by the crisis.