Cameroon: Rampaging Soldiers Wreak Havoc in City of Bamenda, Crushing Civilians and Property
French Cameroun soldiers were on Tuesday, September 1 caught on camera rampaging Bamenda city, shooting at wailing mothers and babies at the Food Market and on commercial avenue and, breaking into shops and destroying property. The action followed the shooting dead of a police inspector and the removal of two others around Commercial Avenue.
As the bewildered population caught in the crossfire scampered for places to seek cover, soldiers pointed their guns here and there and shot randomly sometime in the air and at other times into market stalls and surrounding buildings. Video footage circulating on social media showed them destroying civilian properties, damaging cars parked along the Commercial Avenue and molesting vulnerable women.
Eyewitness accounts say it was at 2 pm that a contingent of military men, armed to teeth came in towards City Chemist Roundabout shooting at random, pulling down all makeshift provision stores and shattering mobile telephone kiosks. This evidence caught on camera is seen as one too many by the civilian population that continue to suffer in the hands of soldiers who claim they are around to protect them and their property.
A resident of Bambili who was at the scene of the shootings but elected to speak anonymously told Timescape Magazine that the shooting at City Chemist Roundabout by the military was very frightful. He said for safety, he dashed into somebody's house behind Corporate Pharmacy and hid there, wondering how he would get back home.
A roadside vendor at the same area by name Victorine Ngala, told Timescape Magazine that when she saw military vehicles assembling around City Chemist and speeding off towards Small Mankon, she sensed danger and when she heard that a police inspector had been killed there. It dawned on her, she went on, that sure trouble was looming. Just when Victorine and her daughter had their wares packed away and ran off to the house not far from City Chemist, she heard heavy gunshots coming behind her.
When the shooting became unbearable, shops were shut down and people ran in all directions safety. There was confusion from Small Mankon, through City Chemist to Commercial Avenue.
Another video footage in circulation revealed a pregnant businesswoman who had managed to lock her shop and was struggling to escape from the flying bullets but was stopped by soldiers and asked to roll in mud for their fun. She obeyed the molestation instructions before being allowed to go.
A lot of those selling by the roadside were not as lucky as the pregnant woman, they had no time to pack up their goods. The goods were left on the spot and owners disappeared for their lives and watched helplessly from their hiding places as the rampaging soldiers destroyed everything on their way.
The uniform officer who was reportedly shot dead by some gunmen riding on a motorbike before 10 am was an inspector of police. Two of his colleagues, some police sources have confirmed, were taken away alive and their weapons seized, prompting the frenzied reaction from the Cameroun military.
The armed conflict in the Once Independent State of Southern Cameroons escalated in November 2017 when the mainly French administration in Yaounde mismanaged peaceful protests by the local people, led by teachers and lawyers demanding greater autonomy and, resorted to the use of excessive force. Young men and women eventually picked up arms to defend themselves, but soon made clear they intend to restore the independence of the former UN Trust Territory under British protectorate. So far, official sources say over 3000 people have been killed, but other trusted sources put the figure at over 12,000 with over 500,000 forced into exile and more than 1,5 million others are internally displaced.