Four police officers were killed in an attack by suspected separatists in Cameroon’s English-speaking region on Monday, a government minister said, the latest violence to strike the country’s troubled west. “Unfortunately an attack took the lives of four of our police officers, coldly murdered this Monday in Kembong,” Communications Minister Issa Tchiroma said, referring to a region that has witnessed a spike in violence by separatists.
English-speakers account for some 20 percent of Cameroon’s population of 23 million but have long chafed under the rule of 84-year-old president Paul Biya, one of the world’s longest serving leaders. The minority dates to the emergence of Cameroon in 1960-61 as France and Britain wound down their colonies in west Africa.
Anglophones have long protested against what they perceive to be a bias in favour of the French-speaking majority. Since November 2016, resentment has fed demands for autonomy or a separate state but the government has responded with a crackdown, including curfews, raids and restrictions on travel.
International monitors say between 20 and 40 people have been killed since late September. In turn, separatists have begun an armed campaign, targeting police and soldiers. Ten were killed last month alone, the authorities say.