Cameroon has deployed troops to a village in the west of the country after violence involving two ethnic groups, the Esu and the Mbororo. Authorities say members of the Esu burned scores of homes and buildings after suspected armed Mbororo killed the Esu's traditional ruler Wednesday for failing to stop Esu youth from joining anglophone separatists.
The Cameroon government says armed men on Wednesday night attacked and killed Kum Achou Albert, the traditional ruler of the Esu. Esu is a village in Menchum, in the English-speaking North West region on the border with Nigeria.
The government said Achou was returning from Wum, capital of the Menchum division, where he had been since March 5.
The government said while in Wum, Achou asked civilians to reconcile for peace and return to the western regions, where separatists have waged a battle against the government since 2017.
Abdullahi Aliou, the highest government official in Menchum, said armed men shot indiscriminately in the air, forcing the traditional ruler's car to stop, then opened fire on the car's occupants.
Ndzo Augustine Kum, the president of the Esu Cultural and Development Association, said the traditional ruler, known as the fon, was killed alongside his wife.
"As his royal highness the Fon of Esu was returning to his fondom he was waylaid and some yet to be identified gunmen bullet his car, thereby killing our fon and the wife. Others inside the car were wounded," said Kum. "Honestly, Esu is in sorrow."
Kum said Achou’s second wife sustained life threatening injuries from gunshots and was rushed to a hospital in Wum.
Cameroon’s military on Thursday said the armed men are suspected Mbororo youths who accuse the Esu traditional ruler of doing too little to stop his people from joining separatists and attacking the Mbororo.
Penn Elvis, a local humanitarian worker, said after the murders, Esu youths torched dozens of homes, farms and property belonging to Mbororos.
"At night the villagers stormed at the houses of the Mbororo and even the mosque was set ablaze because of the anger that came as a result of the death of their fon," said Penn. "The security forces, that is the military, had to visit the place very early this morning to carry out investigations to maintain peace and serenity."
Six people were injured in the attacks. The military said it deployed troops to Esu and surrounding villages but did not say how many troops were deployed.
Civilians say many Mbororo and non-Mbororo youths have been arrested.
The Mbororo ethnic group has always complained that it is the biggest casualty of Cameroons separatist crisis. Group members say separatist fighters have stolen and either slaughtered or sold thousands of cattle belonging to Mbororos. They say hundreds of Mbororos fled their ranches and are living in deplorable conditions in Cameroon's French-speaking areas.
Mbororos say they are victims of fighter attacks because they have never supported separatists struggling to carve out an independent English-speaking state from French-majority Cameroon.
Jaji Manu Guidado, honorary president of a Mbororo cultural and development association, said Mbororos are disgruntled but added investigations should be carried out to ascertain if the traditional ruler of Esu and his wife were killed by Mbororo youths.