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Separatists Attack Cameroon Police

FILE - Cameroon police officials walk with riot shields
FILE - Cameroon police officials walk with riot shields

At least 6 armed separatists and a police official have been killed and several people wounded in the southwestern Cameroon English speaking town of Mamfe during an attack on a military post. The attack occurred after a special envoy from Nigeria assured Cameroon that they want to work jointly to reduce terrorism on their frontiers. Cameroon has been complaining that armed separatists were using Nigerian territory as a training ground.

Cameroon communication minister and government spokesman Issa Tchiroma says hundreds of youths armed with guns, machetes and spears attacked Cameroon's police unit in the English speaking south western town of Mamfe Thursday night. Tchiroma says a policeman was killed and another wounded while dozens of the attackers incurred severe injuries.

"Five terrorists were shot dead by the defense forces who retaliated to an attack led by nearly 200 attackers against the Mamfe gendarmes (police) barracks," said Tchiroma.

It was the third such attack in Mamfe and the neighboring town of Eyumojock that the government says have killed at least seven soldiers and policemen and wounded several more. Residents report that at least 16 military men have been killed there.

Eyumojock is the home town of Julius Ayuk Tabe, the man who says he is the first president of Ambazonia, the name given to the state the separatists say they have created.

Julius Ayuk Tabe is based in neighboring Nigeria where Cameroon communication minister Issa Tchiroma says many fighters have been going for training.

"Over ten young people traveling to Nigeria to be enrolled by terrorists gangs were arrested near the border," he said. "Shortly after an individual, recruiting agent for the armed wing of the secessionist was arrested and their weapons, weapons of war seized."

This week, Lawan Abba Gashagar, Nigeria's high commissioner to Cameroon and special envoy of president Muhammadu Buhari visited Cameroon president Paul Biya and said they would collaborate in fighting the terrorists.

"Nigeria is not in any way supportive or encouraging the dissidents or secessionists and we are going to tackle it accordingly," said Gashagar.

The crisis in the English speaking northwest and southwest regions of Cameroon began in November last year when lawyers and teachers called for a strike to stop what they believe is the overuse of the French language. Violence erupted when separatists started asking for complete independence. Schools have been closed in most of the English-speaking regions.

On October first the separatists declared the independence of what they called the Republic of Ambazonia and asked the military to surrender and join them or leave their territory. So far at least 12 military and police have been killed in the two English speaking regions.

Paul Biya has always said he is not open for any negotiation on the form of the state and that Cameroon is one and indivisible.

Separatist groups have, on social media, said they are only ready to dialogue with Biya on the terms of their separation.