Twenty-five separatists were killed in fighting in a restive English-speaking region of Cameroon, security officials said Wednesday.
“Twenty-five ‘Amba Boys’ were killed in three clashes” on Tuesday in Mbot, a village near the town of Nkambe, a source in the capital Yaounde said, confirming a security source in the troubled Northwest Region.
“Amba Boys” refers to separatists who last year launched an armed campaign for the independence of Cameroon’s two anglophone regions, which they call Ambazonia.
Photos obtained by AFP from a source close to the security services showed about 10 bodies lined up on the ground.
Weapons, mainly shotguns, were placed alongside.
A source close to the security services said the fighters had set up a base in a school in Mayo Binka, a few kilometres (miles) from Nkambe.
Two security officials told AFP that the armed forces did not suffer any losses in the clashes.
Eighty percent of Cameroon’s population are French speakers while the rest are anglophones, who are concentrated in the country’s west, in the Northwest and neighbouring Southwest Regions.
Years-long frustration at perceived discrimination fed demands for anglophone autonomy, which were rejected by the central government.
In 2017, radicals became ascendant in the anglophone movement and declared an independent state, the Republic of Ambazonia, which is not recognised internationally.
They have attacked troops and police and torched schools and other buildings deemed to be symbols of the central state.
The government, in response, has launched a brutal crackdown.
Fighting in the two regions has killed between 450 to 500 civilians, 185 members of the security forces and hundreds of armed separatists think-tank International Crisis Group (ICG) said in a report this month.
“The Anglophone conflict is gradually turning into a civil war,” it said.
According to an October update by the UN’s refugee agency OCHA, there are a total of 437,000 people from the anglophone regions displaced within the country, while some 27,000 people have fled to Nigeria.