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Villagers Kill 3 Separatist Fighters In Mbalangi, Cameroon

The separatists were killed, according to eyewitnesses, because they prevented young people from playing football, despite having previously crippled economic and educational activities.

Villagers in Mbalangi, located in Mbonge sub-division, Meme division in the English-speaking Southwest region of Cameroon have killed three Anglophone separatist fighters hiding in their village.

The incident happened on Sunday and Monday April 4, 2022, when the villagers  fished out the separatists whom they accused of exactions and making life very unbearable for the local populations.

“On Sunday morning while some youths were playing football, a group of separatist combatants arrived and ordered them to stop the match. The youths refused to do so and a hot exchange ensued,” an eyewitness recalled.

“Later in the evening, the separatists burnt down the house of one of the football players and abducted some villagers. The angry population responded by seizing three separatist fighters whom they described as terrorists and killed them.”

Villagers said the separatists rape women and also raid houses across the village.

“We do not feel safe wherever we go. Even in our farms, they come there and rape women. They come to our houses and seize our belongings. We are tired of their harassment. We don’t want them here anymore,” one women leader who opted for anonymity told HumAngle.

A youth leader who did not give his name said the separatists have stopped schoolchildren from attending school while schools have been overtaken by grasses.

“For about five years now, they have intimidated and harassed children and their teachers from attending school. The school compound was all covered with grass so the youths who could no longer play football on the school field decided to clear it so that we could start playing soccer there again,” the unnamed youth leader said.

“But they came and threatened us saying we must not even play football. That to us is one redline so much that they crossed. We don’t want to see them here anymore.” 

A chief in Mbalangi who also pleaded not to be named said the separatists have gone against their own words because “when this thing started, they told us they were fighting Francophone marginalisation”.

“Now instead of fighting the Francophone marginalisation, they have been fighting we, the villagers. They have been killing our people and stealing their properties,” the chief said.

“They have chased away all the teachers and forced our children out of school. But since our children must go to school, most parents have been forced to take their children to schools in French-speaking Cameroon. Most of our schools here have closed down thus forcing teachers out of work with no income to take care of their families.”

“The investments put into opening the schools now lay waste. In contrast, more schools are being opened in Francophone Cameroon to absorb our children and the educational business is doing very well there while our own sector here is almost completely dead. What kind of fight is that? A fight where you chase your own people and children from their villages to the ‘enemy camp’?” 

Chamberlain Ntou Ndong, the senior divisional officer for Meme division, Tuesday April 5, visited Mbalangi to ‘congratulate’ the population and especially its youths for staking their lives in fighting the separatists.

Speaking to the population, the civil administrator reiterated the wish of the government to eradicate the separatist malaise. 

“The population has decided to chase away once and for all, the Ambas from their village,” Ndong said.

“Today, the population remains steadfast. Never would ‘Amba boys’ (as the separatist fighters are popularly called) be allowed into this village. It is the head of state who has sent me to assure the population that there will be more and more security presence here.” 

The population seized the opportunity of the senior divisional officer’s visit to call for the creation of a military base in the village and the reopening of the village school. 

They also called for the provision of pipe-borne water and the rehabilitation of a bridge that had been destroyed by separatists in their village.

The incident was the first time where local populations have risen up against separatist fighters and their exactions within their communities. Several villages in the Northwest region have recently chased away people they identified as separatist fighters from their communities following incessant harassment and torture of their own people.

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Chief Bisong Etahoben

Chief Bisong Etahoben is a Cameroonian investigative journalist and traditional ruler. He writes for international media and has participated in several transnational investigations. Etahoben won the first-ever Cameroon Investigative Journalist Award in 1992. He serves as a member of a number of international investigative journalism professional bodies including the Forum for African Investigative Reporters (FAIR). He is HumAngle's Francophone and Central Africa editor.

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