US accuses Cameroon of targeted killings


The United States accuses the Cameroonian government of “targeted killings”, arson and looting in its fight against an Anglophone separatist movement.

In a statement following a meeting with President Paul Biya, the US ambassador to Cameroon called for dialogue to end an 18-month-old conflict.

English-speaking rebels killed more than 20 gendarmes and tens of thousands of people, mostly English-speakers, fled to Nigeria to escape army reprisals.

The unrest destabilised the mostly French-speaking Central African oil producer, months before an election in which Biya will seek to extend his 35-year-old rule.

Reuters reported in February soldiers burnt houses with people inside and shot unarmed residents as part of a military offensive to root out separatists in the North-west and South-west regions.

The Cameroon army and government denied mistreatment of its English-speaking minority.
“April has proven the bloodiest so things are not getting better,” said US ambassador Peter Henry Barlerin.

He said Cameroon authorities authorised “targeted killings, detentions without access to legal support … and burning and looting of villages”.

The separatists have committed “murders of gendarmes, kidnapping of government officials and burning schools”, he said.

Leading separatists claimed responsibility for the attacks.

What started as a peaceful protest in late 2016 calling for greater representation for Cameroon’s English-speaking regions morphed into a full blown secessionist insurgency, partly in response to government’s clampdown on demonstrations.

Witnesses and rights groups said the army used helicopter gunships to fire on protesters, allegations government denies.