At least 22 people, including children and pregnant women, were killed in an attack on a village in Cameroon’s restive North West Region, the United Nations said on Monday.
The civilians were killed in the village of Ngarbuh on Friday, said UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) coordinator James Nunan, while local pastor Eric Giyoh told dpa 27 people had been killed in the massacre, including his pregnant sister.
Local media were placing the death toll at 35 people based on witness reports on Monday.
The village of Ngarbuh lies in Cameroon’s Anglophone region, which has been hit by violence since separatists announced in late 2016 that they wished to secede and form a new country called Ambazonia.
English-speakers have long complained of being treated like second-class citizens and getting less government funding in Cameroon.
A villager, Rene Ngeh, told dpa in the capital Yaounde that nine members of his family had been killed in their sleep during the attack, which residents say has been carried out by the army.
“My wife’s aunt was killed along with her eight children, by the very military that is supposed to protect them,’’ said Ngeh.
The defence ministry issued a statement on Monday describing the killings as very simply an unfortunate accident, collateral of ongoing security operations in the region.
According to the defence ministry spokesman Atonfack Guemo, four soldiers and two gendarmes attacked a heavily armed terrorist camp in Ngarbuh on Friday.
The attack resulted to heavy fighting leading to the deaths of seven separatists, as well as an accidental explosion and fire that killed one woman and four children.
The army has launched an investigation into the incident, the statement read.
Director of the Centre for Human Rights and Democracy in Africa and human rights lawyer, Felix Agbor-Balla, however, called for an independent investigation into the gruesome murder of civilians.
Edited By: Halima Sheji/Maharazu Ahmed
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