Cameroon Anglophone Crisis: Military and separatist fighters tussle for strategic positions

Government and separatist fighters in the war-torn Anglophone Regions of Cameroon neither tussle for strategic positions with no victor nor vanquished in sight.

As the running four-year armed conflict crumble the North West and South West Regions of Cameroon, separatist fighters and government forces have been tussling to control major roads in the embittered Anglophone Regions. The separatist have repeatedly imposed their authority along the main supply roads into the chief town of the North West Region, Bamenda, especially on National Road N6 (Bamenda-Bafoussam) and the Bamenda-Ekok Trans African highway which runs from Bali, Batibo, Widikum and Mamfe to Ekok in the South West Region bordering Nigeria. These attacks have made the roads unsecured and dangerous for trade and movement as each time the state forces are mobilized to recover lost territories.

In June 2020, circulation of goods and persons on the Bamenda – Ekok Trans African highway, was halted for over 72 hours by separatist fighters, specifically at Bali. On July 4, 2020, the restoration forces burned a truck on NR6, belonging to Les Brasseries Du Cameroon, a brewery company well established in the country. This brewery company the sepaartist claim, is a French concern, they consider friendly to the Yaounde regime they are fighting against. On July 11, 20202 a mixed security patrol ran into an ambush on NR6 during which a police officer was killed and 6 others wounded.

This hit-and-run attack between the belligerents has unfortunately put the population at cross roads. The prices of basic merchandises like soap, fuel, drinks, perishable food stuffs have sky-rocketed. For fear of cross-fire insecurity just a handful of business persons risk going to get goods from Douala Cameroon’s economic capital or from Nigeria.

In order to restore and impose its state authority the Cameroon military has executed several operations in an attempt to stop and push back the attacks of separatist fighters.

In June 2020, close to 300 soldiers from the 51st motorized Infantry Battalion based in Bamenda under the command of Gen Nka Valere carried out a massive operation called “Widi-Bali”, to clear the strong holds of armed fighters interrupting circulation on the Bamenda-Ekok road to Nigeria.

According to Col. Matiang Charles Alain, commander of the operation, the task force dismantled the camps of separatist fighters in Bali, Batibo and Widikum and cleared the supply road. 13 armed fighters were killed in the 5-day operation according to military sources.

In a similar operation carried on July 14, 2020 code named “Awing-Pinyin” aimed at  securing the Bamenda-Bafoussam road, 450 soldiers raked the area from Bamendakwe to Awing, Alahtening, Baba II, Baforchu to Bawock and up to Pinyin and Santa. 15 armed fighters including a separatist “General Okoro were neutralized.

In both operations, multiple weapons were seized, and materials used for the fabrication of local explosives destroyed.

As to how successful these government operations have been, it may be difficult to tell. Evidently Cameroon State authority can only be felt in the Regional headquarters of Bamenda in the North West Region and Buea in the South West Region. The independence fighters still dictate their power in over 70 per cent of the Anglophone territories ordering lock-downs that are largely respected by the population.

The international community has repeatedly prescribed and inclusive dialogue as a solution to resolving the four-year long war.

Maikem Manzie

Sillon PANAFRICAIN

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