14 children among 22 killed in Cameroon massacre
Published: 11:08 AM, 17 February 2020
At least 22 people including 14 children have been killed in an attack on a village in north-west Cameroon, the United Nations (UN) said on Sunday.
Armed men carried out the bloodshed in the village of Ntumbo in the Northwest region on Friday, and local media report that several victims were burned alive.
No-one has claimed responsibility for Friday's incident, but an opposition party blamed the army. Cameroon's government, which has been fighting separatists in the region for three years, has not yet commented on the attack.
“Up to 22 civilians were killed, including a pregnant woman and several children,” said James Nunan, an official from the UN's humanitarian coordination agency OCHA.
14 children including nine under age five were among the dead, he said, adding that 11 of the children were girls.
Nunan said the incident has "terrified" the local population.
"Whichever group has done this has threatened that there will be more violence ahead," he said. "The people we've spoken with are extremely traumatised and didn't expect this."
In a statement, one of the country's main opposition parties - The Movement for the Rebirth of Cameroon - blamed "the dictatorial regime" and the head of Cameroon's security forces for the attack.
Agbor Mballa, a leading figure in the separatist movement, also suggested "state defence forces were responsible".
An army official, interviewed by AFP news agency, denied the allegations.
The conflict has been centred in north-western Cameroon, where most of the population speaks English because of old colonial ties to Britain.
Armed separatist groups began to emerge in 2017 after a security force crackdown on protests. Separatists have declared independence for a new state they call Ambazonia, but Cameroon's President Paul Biya has labelled the groups as "terrorists".
More than 3,000 people have died since the outbreak of fighting and at least 70,000 people have also been displaced from their homes.
Cameroon's government has been accused of human rights abuses during the conflict, and US President Donald Trump has axed the country from a special trade program with America.
The government says separatists have killed dozens of civilians and security forces, but no official figures exist for civilians and separatists killed by government forces.
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