School Attack in Cameroon

On the Verge of Civil War

At around midday on Saturday 24 October, gunmen opened fire on children at a local school in Kumba city in South West Cameroon. According to the BBC at least six children were killed, whilst Al Jazeera puts the fatalities at eight, all aged between twelve and fourteen years old. Alongside those killed, it is believed that around twelve more were seriously injured. 

African Union Commission Chair, Moussa Faki Mahamat said:

“there are no words of grief nor condemnation strong enough to articulate my full horror at the brutal attack.”

There has been no immediate claim for the violence, and it is currently unclear as to whether the attack was related to the ongoing tensions between Anglophone and Francophone regions within the country. 

Cameroon has been no stranger to violence over the last four years, as pressure between the Anglophone South West and North West regions, and the Francophone majority have escalated. Like many modern political conflicts, these troubles can be traced back to Cameroon’s colonial past. Originally invaded by Germany in the 1880s, Cameroon was divided into a French colony and a British colony following World War 1. Following 77 years of colonial rule, Cameroon won its independence as a united republic in 1960, but these colonial divisions continue to devise the country today. 

Since its independence, Anglophone regions of Cameroon have made claims of neglect from the Francophone majority, including president Paul Biya, who has been in office since 1982. This neglect is particularly evident in the discrepancies in economic investment in Anglophone and Francophone regions, with the former suffering. 

In 2016 Anglophone teachers and lawyers went on strike, leading months of demonstrations as some began to call for independence of the Anglophone Cameroon in a newly formed state, Ambazonia. This was met with a three month internet ban as the government dispelled protestors with excessive force, including accusations of arbitrary arrest, prolonged detention and sexual abuse. 

The government action was met with violent campaigns of revenge by Anglophone militants, and as conflict increases between militants and the army, Cameroon is on the verge of civil war. So far the violence in the country has left an estimated 3000 people dead and tens of thousands displaced.