Concern is steadily gaining ground regarding the security situation in Cameroon to the point where the media and NGOs are already speculating about a possible civil war in this country of Central Africa.
According to the recent report of the International Crisis Group, at least 120 civilians and 43 members of the security forces have been killed since the beginning of the conflict.
More than 20,000 people have fled to neighboring Nigeria, and 160,000 people are now internally displaced, according to the United States Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
Last week, 40 bodies were found in English-speaking areas of the country, 27 of which were allegedly shot dead by police.
Colonel Didier Badjeck, a spokesman for the Cameroonian army, hinted that it was during an exchange of fire with separatists and government troops that many of them died.
Several local sources report that the separatists recently abducted a mayor, killed two policemen and intimidated people trying to celebrate the national holiday.
These multiple killings and incidents worry many observers who think that Cameroon would not be far from a civil war.
“We are gradually getting there,” said Agbor Nkongho, an English-speaking human rights lawyer and director of the Center for Human Rights and Democracy in Africa.
“I do not see the government’s willingness to try to find and address the issue in a way that we will not get there,” he added.
Since the end of 2016, a violent uprising has been born in the English-speaking regions of the country. When peaceful protests began 18 months ago, government forces opened fire on protesters, looted and burned villages.
Today, an armed separatist movement is gaining momentum, kidnapping government officials and killing gendarmes.
“If you look at what is happening now, you can call it a civil war,” said John Mukum Mbaku, a professor at Weber State University, Utah, and a non-resident member of the Brookings Institution.
“The government is killing defenseless villagers, and many have decided to defend themselves and retaliate.”
The separatists want to establish a new English-speaking nation called Ambazonia. They are determined to wage war on government troops until they reach this goal
“You talk to people who were very moderate, but they are now supporting the separatist movement,” Nkongho said.