Sun. Nov 28th, 2021

Law group says students aged 12, 16 and 17 and a French language teacher died in Ekondo Titi, in the South West region affected by unrest.

UNIDENTIFIED gunmen attacked a school in a village in Cameroon’s violent Southwest region, killing at least three students and one teacher, according to a local human rights group.

The Center for Human Rights and Democracy in Africa (CHRDA) said in a statement on Wednesday that several others were injured in the attack in Ekondo Titi. It identified the murdered students as 12, 16 and 17 years old and the fourth victim as a French language teacher.

“CHRDA strongly condemns this attack on school children and teachers,” the group said in a statement, while appealing to the government to take measures to “investigate the incident impartially and effectively”.

“Take all necessary measures to put an end to the English-language crisis through an honest and inclusive dialogue,” the statement added.

The more than four-year-old English conflict began when government forces used deadly force to suppress peaceful protests by lawyers and teachers against alleged marginalization by the country’s majority French-speaking government. In response, dozens of armed separatist groups formed to fight for an independent nation called Ambazonia.

Some 4,000 people have died in the conflict so far, with more than 700,000 people forced to flee their homes.

Law groups have accused both separatists and government security forces of abusing them.

Kenneth Nanji, the mayor of Ekondo Titi, also confirmed the attack on the school without providing a death toll.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility.

Exacerbating violence in Cameroon’s English-speaking regions is taking an increasing toll on civilians, with renewed attacks on schools documented in recent months.

Between October and December 2020, the United Nations recorded 35 attacks on schools, including the “murder, torture and abduction of students and teachers, as well as arson of educational facilities”, according to a provides internal report to Al Jazeera earlier this year.

Of those attacks, 30 were carried out by separatist groups, resulting in 10 civilian deaths and 67 abductions.

The five other incidents involved government security forces, including the “accidental firing of weapons” near schools and resulted in five civilian injuries.

Schools have been a major attack since the beginning of the conflict when separatists called for a boycott of education to draw attention to the increasing use of French in the classroom and confidence in monolingual French-speaking teachers.

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