Unidentified gunmen stormed a school in Kumba in the restive Southwest region on Saturday, October 24, killing at least six children and injuring about a dozen others. The attack took place at the Mother Francisca school in Fiango, Kumba in the South West Region of the country

It is not clear who perpetrated the killings as the country is in a civil war with Cameroun military battling Separatist fighters from the two English speaking regions of the country. Cameroun’s officials say separatist fighters carried out the attack to enforce the closure of schools. Separatist leaders accuse the Cameroun military of carrying out the massacre to gain sympathy from the international community and convince them to declare the separatists as terrorists.

Videos circulating on social media filmed by local journalists showed parents rushing from the school with children in their arms, surrounded by wailing onlookers. Some showed the inside of a classroom, where dried blood had pooled on the floor. Videos and photos are circulating on social media showing the gruesomely murdered children.

Local Population gather outside the Mother Francisca school in Fiango, Kumba where unidentified gunmen massacre at least six students

Isabel Dione, a parent of one of the injured students told Reuters that she found her 12-yrs-old daughter in the school bleeding from the stomach and rushed to the hospital where she is undergoing treatment for a gunshot wound.

A local pastor, Boniface Tamungwa, speaking to local media confirmed that his 11-yrs-old son called Victory was among the students killed.

Speaking to Reuters, Cameroun’s Divisional Office for the Kumba, Ali Anougou blamed the attack on the secessionists. “They found the children in class and they opened fire on them,” he said but did not offer evidence. The Senior Divisional Office of the locality, Chamberlain Ntou’o Ndong in an interview on state media announced that he has ordered the arrest of all individual in the vicinity of the school for failing to confront the armed men during the massacre.

Jailed separatist, leader Ayuk Tabe has described the attack as “inhumane” in a Twitter post and said, “anyone responsible for these atrocities must be brought to book.” The Ambazonia Governing Council – AGovC which commands the largest separatist arm group in the region, the Ambazonia Defense Forces, has put out a statement distancing its forces from the massacre and placing the blame on the Cameroon military.

Speaking to Pan-Africa24, the AGovC President Dr. Ayaba Lucas Cho strongly condemned the killing of innocent children and noted that Cameroun has consistently demonstrated a pattern of torture and murder of not only Southern Cameroonians but also Cameroun citizens. He cited the massacre of women and children in the Far North of the Country and also Ngarbuh. In both cases, the Cameroun government initially denied its forces were responsible. They later admitted guilt when eyewitness reports and investigative reports international organisations including Amnesty International showed that members of the Cameroun Army and Rapid intervention Brigade – BIR, were responsible.

Several Cameroonians and Southern Cameroonians have taken to Facebook and Twitter to call for an end to the war. Some are calling for the United Nations and the African Union to send fact-finding missions to the country and also to intervene to resolve the almost 4-yrs conflict. The hastags #IAmKumba i and #EndAnglophoneCrisis n trending on Social Media

Prominent opposition figures in Cameroon have condemned the Kumba massacre. Professor Maurice kamto of the CRM called it absolute horror while Fabrice Lena of the Popular Action Party puts the blame of the poor on the poor handling of the “Anglophone Crisis” by the Paul Biya region. Barrister Agbor Balla, a prominent Human Rights Lawyer and President of the Centre for Human Rights and Democracy in Africa, has also condemned the killing, calling it gruesome and barbaric. Nfon Mukete IV Ekoko, Paramount Ruler of the Bafaw people of Kumba has sent a message of condolence to the bereaved families

The UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said in a statement that “At least eight children were killed as a result of gunshots and attack with machetes. Another twelve were wounded and taken to local hospitals,”

Artistic tribute to the Kumba School Massacre by Nchifor Khan

Tensions between Cameroon’s minority English-speaking community and the national authorities remain high in the Northwest and Southwest regions, where a separatist movement has transformed into a low-level armed insurgency. The situation has deteriorated considerably since September 2017, when secessionists unilaterally proclaimed independence in the region which they call Ambazonia. The United Nations estimates that at least 50,000 Cameroonians have fled the fighting to Nigeria since the beginning of the conflict, with more than 675,000 others believed to have been internally displaced.


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