Armed ViolenceNews

Athletes Injured in Cameroon Mountain Race Bombing

Three bombs have gone off during an international mountain race in Cameroon, injuring dozens. The race was taking place in Buea, headquarters of an English-speaking region, affected by a seven year war.

18-year-old Obamison Dimitri said he was aware there was a war in Buea, Southwest of Cameroon when he applied to take part in the Mountain Race of Hope on Saturday.

Everything was going on smoothly until, thirty minutes into the race, when there was an explosion, and the Gabonese runner felt like fire claimed his leg. 

“When I wanted to bypass the person that was leading the race, that’s when a bomb took me at the level of my leg.”, he said.  

“All those who were by me were all on the ground when it happened. Others ran away just like me as we all struggled. They thought it was a kidnapping”, added Dimitri. 

“When this occurred I thought It was a war because we were told earlier that there was insecurity in the area. I felt fire”.

Dimitri, Gabonese athlete Photo: Balafon

Two other explosions followed immediately after the one that got Dimitri. Several people and athletes who sustained injuries were transferred to the Buea regional hospital.

There have been reports a three year old girl got caught in one of the explosions. 

Southwest governor Bernard Okalia Bilai confirmed the attack took place early Saturday, with 17 spectators sustaining injuries. 

The three explosions were planted in isolated places around town, he said, and despite the attempt, the population offered protection to the athletes.

“During the last six years of the crisis, none of this happened. It is proven that the population of Southwest has said no to disorder, no to violence..”, he boasted. 

Locals say they can’t make out when the culprits could have planted the explosives. Despite the attack, other athletes continued the race. 

The Cameroon Mountain Race of Hope is held every February in Buea. Despite the seven year war in the English-speaking town, boycott and “ghost town” orders from armed separatist terrorists, the race has previously gone off without a hitch. 

This year, the race’s 50th anniversary, calls were made online for denizens to respect the ghost town order and boycott the race. 

This year some thirteen foreign countries sent athletes to the race.  Athletes from Kenya, Nigeria, Central African Republic, Chad, France, Uganda, Congo, Gabon, Ethiopia, Tanzania, United States of America, Tunisia and Morocco were all involved in the race this morning when the incident occurred.

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