The smell of roasted human flesh fills the air in Mbengwi Road, a locale in Cameroon’s northwestern town of Bamenda after state forces went in search of gunmen who detonated an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) Wednesday, December 8, 2021.
Scores of people pointed their mobile phones at the burnt bodies of at least five persons as well as dozens of houses burning in hell-hot flames in the heart of the quarter after a military raid in the area.
“As Amba-implanted explosive kills soldiers: Military goes on rampage, burns five alive, houses in Bamenda,” The Guardian Post reports.
“At least five persons were Wednesday evening burnt alive and scores of houses set ablaze along the Mbengwi Road, Azire, Hospital Roundabout and Rendezvous neighborhoods in Bamenda of the North West region by soldiers,” The Guardian Post adds, citing accounts from locals.
According to reports, armed separatist fighters detonated an IED, destroying an armored vehicle aboard state forces. The casualty figures have not been made public by the authorities. But the reaction of the soldiers suggests the extent of the impact of the IED attack.
“In retaliation, the soldiers are said to have gone nerves high, setting homes, cars, and businesses ablaze. Five persons are said to have been burnt alive in the process, leaving the population in shock. The incident has since been described by analysts as ‘barbaric, heartless and genocidal’,” The Guardian Post reports.
Amateur videos on social media show at least five corpses burnt with many houses and shops charred to the ground.
For fear of the unknown, locals have been fleeing to safety.
“It was at about pass 3:15 pm that I was inside my house with my grandson. I heard a very loud explosion that sounded like a bomb. I fell to the ground and later heard sounds of gun all over. I later heard footsteps around my house and I saw military men who surrounded my house. Before I knew it, smoke was coming out of my building. I could not go out because of gunshots. I heard them speaking in French and I stayed mute with my grandson…,” a survivor tells The Guardian Post.
“Even my identification card, my children’s documents, certificates, and computers got burnt, even a single dress I didn’t take from the house…“
With houses, shops, and cars burnt and about half a dozen people killed, Wednesday’s action underscored the growing fears and suspicions swirling around the five-year-old Anglophone protest movement, which engulfed Cameroon’s North West and South West Regions in 2016 when thousands took to the streets to decry government corruption, poor services, and scarcity of jobs, benefiting from a strike action called by teachers and lawyers against perceived marginalization.
The street demonstrations later morphed into ongoing running gun battles between state forces and armed separatist fighters in the predominantly English-speaking regions, leading to untold destruction of human lives, their habitats, and livelihoods.
Cameroon’s state forces have been battling to dislodge the armed separatists who pitched their tents in the North West and South West Regions since Anglophone protests transformed into an armed conflict in 2017.
Tit-for-tat killings, kidnappings, arsons, maiming, and outright terror have become part of daily lives in some parts of the English-speaking regions.