4 killed as hospital torched in Cameroon’s anglophone west

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Four people died when gunmen raided a hospital and burnt it to the ground in western Cameroon where anglophone separatists have been fighting troops, witnesses and a local official said on Monday.

The incident occurred in Kumba, a town which serves as the commercial hub for the anglophone region and which has been badly hit by the violence between separatists and Cameroon troops that began in October 2017.

“Attackers killed four people and burnt down the hospital,” said an administrative official in the Kumba region, confirming information from a witness.

It was not immediately clear whether the victims were shot or died in the fire, nor whether they were patients at the facility.

Another local source said it appeared separatists were behind the attack.

The incident occurred on National Youth Day, the anniversary of the 1961 referendum which saw Cameroon’s western English-speaking areas joined onto the francophone areas which had just won independence from France.

Kumba lies about 70km north of Buea, capital of the Southwest region which along with the Northwest region is home to an anglophone minority that accounts for about a fifth of the country’s population.

Both areas, which were once ruled by Britain, have long complained of discrimination at the hands of the French-speaking majority and where separatists are fighting for independence.

Since the start of February, at least four people have been killed in Buea, one of whom was decapitated, as separatists announced plans to disrupt the February 11 anniversary.

Over the past 16 months, there have been regular clashes between troops and groups of separatists who have attacked police stations, schools and staged mass kidnappings.

UN figures show around 437 000 people have been forced out of their homes by the ongoing conflict, with another 32 000 fleeing across the border to neighboring Nigeria.