YAOUNDE - Five soldiers and five policemen have been killed within 24 hours in Cameroon's two English-speaking regions. Separatists have claimed responsibility.
Cameroon's Communications Minister Issa Tchiroma said armed men attacked a military convoy deployed from Yaounde on a peacekeeping mission to the English-speaking southwest town of Mamfe on the morning of November 29 and killed four soldiers.
One soldier who was severely wounded escaped. The attackers stole huge quantities of weapons.
The second attack took place in Eyoumojock, not far from Mamfe early Thursday morning, leaving five policeman and a soldier dead.
Tchiroma confirmed that an armed group fighting for the independence of the English-speaking regions from the rest of Cameroon claimed responsibility.
"The assailants claim to belong the the armed wing of the secessionist movement called Southern Cameroon Ambazonian Consortium United Front, " said Tchiroma. "How can we maintain dialogue with an interlocutor whose only ideology is the partition of a state that is legitimate and recognized as such by all international bodies?"
Tchiroma said Cameroon President Paul Biya has deployed more troops to the area to maintain peace and track the assailants. He said the government is asking people to share any information that could lead to the assailants' arrest.
Schools have been closed in the English-speaking northwest and southwest since November last year when lawyers and teachers called for a strike to stop what they believe is the overbearing use of French in the regions.
Violence erupted when separatists joined in and started asking for complete independence.
On October 1, they declared what they called the independence of the Republic of Ambazonia and asked the military to surrender and join them or leave their territory. They have so far killed 16 soldiers and policemen in the two English-speaking regions.
President Biya has said he is not open to negotiation on the form of the state and that Cameroon is one and indivisible.
Separatist groups have said on social media they will talk with Biya only about the terms of their separation.