Cameroon separatists shoot at airliner


Separatist rebels fired on a Cameroon Airlines passenger jet approaching Bamenda airport, their leader told Reuters.

The scheduled flight from Douala landed safely, Cameroon Airlines said in a statement confirming the attack. The airline grounded the aircraft while it assesses the damage.

“Thanks to the bravery of the captain, the aircraft was able to land despite the impact on its fuselage,” it said.

The English-speaking west of Cameroon has been a battleground since 2017 between the army and rebels seeking to form a breakaway state Ambazonia.

Civilians were caught up in the conflict from the outset. More than 400 people were killed and half a million forced to flee.

Sunday’s incident appeared to mark an escalation in the danger faced travelling to and from the richly forested region.

Cho Ayaba, a separatist leader and president of the Ambazonian Council, said commercial aircraft transported soldiers and weapons and he warned Cameroon Airlines and its passengers aircraft will be shot at if they do not provide flight schedules ahead of time.

“If we cannot confirm, we will consider all planes coming in as a security risk,” he said. “This is war.”

What began as peaceful protests in the south-west, calling for greater powers for English speakers in the largely French-speaking country, degenerated into near daily violence.

Despite tentative efforts to sue for peace, fighting continued, with both sides accused of atrocities, including bombings and kidnappings by separatists and indiscriminate killings by armed forces.