YAOUNDE, CAMEROON - There has been widespread condemnation in Cameroon over an attack on a school in the southwestern town of Kumba Saturday that left seven children dead. Locals marched through Kumba Sunday calling for an investigation and for the killings of innocents to stop.
Close to a thousand men, women and children dressed in black as a sign of mourning listened to the mayor of Kumba Sunday. Gregory Mewano called on the protesters of the killing of seven school children to be united against cruelty and to cooperate with the military investigating the killing.
The event was broadcast by almost all local radio and TV stations.
Ekoko Mukete, traditional ruler of Kumba, says he has joined the protest to ask for barbarism in his city to end immediately.
"I am here to resound the disgust that the entire nation of Cameroon, and not just Cameroon, the entire world [has]," said Ekoko. "People have been watching the pictures, asking themselves why. How could people [fighters] be so mean, wicked and demonic? We shall say no to violence. What do we say to violence?"
CROWD ANSWERS: "No to violence"
Sunday, churches, mosques and community meetings all over Cameroon dedicated time to condemning the killing.
Tameh Valentine, president of the Teachers Association of Cameroon says no community can be built without education.
“Sustainable Development Goal number 4 asserts that all in communities should be educated, so whoever supported or sponsored the barbaric activity, we are stating here that such a person has begun a war against the United Nations that put in place all those Sustainable Development Goals," said Tameh.
Cameroon reports that since the 2020/2021 school year began on October 5, more than a million children in the crisis prone English-speaking regions listened to pleas from the government and international NGOs and resumed their studies
Cameroon government spokesperson Rene Emmanuel Sadi says the separatists have for four years asked parents to stop sending children to school.
"The objective of these separatists is to break the fresh impetus observed in the resumption of classes in the Northwest and the Southwest regions," said Sadi. "The government intends to reaffirm its resolve to address all the intimidation by creating and preserving the conditions that would allow for the persuasion of the back to school campaign and the security of the educational community of the concerned regions as a whole."
Sadi said troops had been deployed to track the killers and bring them to justice. The United Nations, rights groups and foreign embassies in Yaoundé have all condemned the attack. Four children died on the spot and three at a hospital in Kumba. Fifteen were wounded with seven in critical condition.
The U.S. Embassy in a release said it condemned in the strongest possible terms the shooting at Mother Francisca Nursery and Primary School in Kumba. The release says the violence must stop now, and children should be allowed to exercise their right to go to school without fear for their safety and that the perpetrators of the attack must be held accountable and be brought to justice.