Cameroonian officials say separatists have killed at least 26 people over the weekend, including local officials who called for the formation of militias to fight the rebels. Cameroon's military says it retaliated, killing a number of separatists.
Cameroon’s military says on Saturday and Sunday anglophone rebels launched simultaneous attacks in several villages in the English-speaking western regions.
Mayor of Cameroon’s northwestern Tubah district, Martin Tanjong, says the fighters appeared to be targeting local authorities, but also killed at least six civilians.
Speaking from Tubah via a messaging application, Tanjong says the rebels are angry at officials for organizing militias to fight them.
"The chairman of the traditional council of Bambili community and his secretary were removed from their houses and their skulls shattered. We, some of the elite, are under heavy threats [made] on phones and social media," he said.
Also, in the last week, Cameroonian officials say rebel fighters killed a deputy mayor of the northwestern Ngwa district for collaborating with authorities.
Speaking from Ngwa via a messaging application, official Jeanette Sheyson says fighters killed seven civilians alongside the deputy mayor.
"We plead with the government to put an end to all this chaos. It makes us feel bad and afraid to even do our job[s]. I am sorry, I regret for the loss of this deputy mayor. May his gentle soul rest in peace," she said.
Cameroon’s minister of the supreme state office, Mbah Acha Rose, says her delegation was visiting the town of Mbengwi and got caught up in the attacks.
"They attacked us in about four places," she said. "The newly elected mayor was kidnapped, and we want to keep pleading with the boys in the bush to come out. When they come out, they will be forgiven. We just want them to drop their guns. They are our children. They are our brothers and our sisters. They should come out. We want to preach but peace."
The rebels on social media claimed responsibility for the attacks and have repeatedly threatened those they accuse of collaborating with the majority French-speaking state.
Cameroon’s military in a press release said it retaliated and claimed it killed “many” rebels without giving any numbers.
Both sides in the three-year conflict routinely accuse the other of suffering more losses in battle and being responsible for the deaths of civilians.
Rights groups say both the rebels and Cameroon’s military have committed atrocities in the conflict.
The rebels have since 2017 been fighting to create an independent, English-speaking state in Cameroon’s western regions.
The United Nations says the conflict has cost Cameroon more than 3,000 lives and displaced more than half a million people to French-speaking regions or neighboring Nigeria.