Death toll from Cameroon clashes in anglophone region rises to 32: Government

A social crisis that began in November 2016 has turned into armed conflict since October 2017. Several small armed groups demand the independence of the two English-speaking regions of Cameroon, bordering Nigeria. (AFP/ALEXIS HUGUET)
Updated 29 May 2018

Death toll from Cameroon clashes in anglophone region rises to 32: Government

  • The clash erupted at a motel last Friday in Menka, in the Northwest Region
  • About a fifth of French-speaking Cameroon’s population of 22 million is anglophone

YAOUNDE: The death toll from a firefight in an English-speaking region of Cameroon shaken by an armed separatist campaign stands at 32, including five “hostages,” the government said.
The clash erupted at a motel last Friday in Menka, in the Northwest Region — one of two regions gripped by fighting over the last eight months.
“Twenty-seven terrorists (were) neutralized” by a 30-member special unit of police and troops, government spokesman Tchiroma Bakary, who is also communications minister, said late Monday.
The group, which were attacked at a hotel, was an “armed gang” that for months had been “sowing terror and desolation” in the region, killing gendarmes and carrying out kidnappings, rape and extortion, he charged.
Out of “15 hostages” taken by the group, five died, all of them at the hands of the attackers, he said.
About a fifth of French-speaking Cameroon’s population of 22 million is anglophone.
For years, resentment built among anglophones, fostered by perceived marginalization in education, the judiciary and the economy at the hands of the French-speaking majority.
Demands for greater autonomy were rejected by 85-year-old President Paul Biya, in power for more than 35 years.
The crisis escalated last October after the declaration of the self-described “Republic of Ambazonia” in the Northwest and Southwest Regions, causing scores of deaths and prompting tens of thousands to flee their homes.
Human-rights watchdogs point to a range of abuses, including abductions and targeted killings.
Security forces found five pump-action shotguns, of a type only used by special forces, as well as 17 combat guns and 10 hunting rifles, about 30 military uniforms as well as five berets “which belonged to police and gendarmes who were shot dead in cold blood by the same terrorists,” Tchiroma said.
He denied “allegations that the Cameroonian army carried out a massacre on the civilian population.”
Tchiroma said images of the dead at Menka have been widely distributed on social media, prompting human-rights watchdogs and opposition politicians to voice outrage.
Nji Tumasang, an MP with the English-speaking opposition Social Democratic Front (SDF), speaking after a party delegation visited Menka on Saturday, said 22 people had been killed.
Their identity was unclear, but villagers said they were criminals, not “terrorists” as the army had said, Tumasang said.
Cameroon’s linguistic division dates back to the colonial period.
It was once a German colony and was divided between Britain and France after World War I.
In 1960, the French part gained independence, becoming Cameroon, and the following year, the British-ruled Southern Cameroons was amalgamated into it, becoming the Northwest and Southwest Regions.
According to the International Crisis Group (ICG) think tank, “at least 120” civilians and “at least 43” security forces have been killed since the end of 2016.
The UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says around 160,000 people have been internally displaced and 20,000 have sought refuge in neighboring Nigeria as a result of the violence.


US passes 9 million coronavirus cases as infections spike

Updated 31 October 2020

US passes 9 million coronavirus cases as infections spike

  • On Friday the US set a record for new daily infections of more than 94,000 in 24 hours
  • More than 229,000 people have died of the virus in the US since the pandemic began

WASHINGTON: The United States passed nine million reported coronavirus cases on Friday and broke its own record for daily new infections for the second day in a row, according to a tally from Johns Hopkins University, as Covid-19 surges days before the country chooses its next president.
The US, which has seen a resurgence of its outbreak since mid-October, has now notched up 9,034,295 cases, according to a real-time count by the Baltimore-based school.
On Friday the country set a record for new daily infections of more than 94,000 in 24 hours, breaking the record of 91,000 it had set just one day earlier.
With the virus spreading most rampantly in the Midwest and the South, hospitals are also filling up again, stretching the health care system just as the nation heads in to flu season.
"We are not ready for this wave," Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University school of public health, warned on ABC's Good Morning America on Thursday.

COVID-19 tally by the John Hopkins University of Medicine as of October 30, 2020.

Authorities in El Paso, Texas, imposed a curfew this week to protect "overwhelmed" health care workers and began setting up field hospitals.
But a judge's attempt to shut down non-essential businesses in the city has been challenged by the mayor and the state's attorney general, the Washington Post reported.
Midwestern state Wisconsin has also set up a field hospital in recent weeks, and hospital workers in Missouri were sounding warning bells as cases rise.
Hospitals in the western state of Utah were preparing to ration care by as early as next week as patients flood their ICUs, according to local media.
The pattern of the pandemic so far shows that hospitalizations usually begin to rise several weeks after infections, and deaths a few weeks after that.
More than 229,000 people have died of the virus in the US since the pandemic began, the Hopkins tally showed as of Friday, with the daily number of deaths creeping steadily upwards in recent weeks also -- though at present it remains below peak levels.
For months public health officials have been warning of a surge in cases as cooler fall weather settles over the US, driving more people indoors.
As the weather changes, New York and other parts of the northeast, which were the epicenter of the US outbreak in the spring but largely controlled the virus over the summer, were reporting a worrying rise.
Some epidemiologists believe that Covid-19 spreads more easily in drier, cool air.
Rural areas, which in the spring appeared to be getting off lightly compared to crowded cities, were also facing spikes with states like North Dakota charting one of the steepest rises in recent weeks.
The state is so overwhelmed that earlier this month it told residents they have to do their own contact tracing, local media reported.
With four days to go until the election, Donald Trump was battling to hold on to the White House against challenger Joe Biden, who has slammed the president's virus response.
"It is as severe an indictment of a president's record as one can possibly imagine, and it is utterly disqualifying," Biden said Friday as the toll passed nine million.
Trump downplays the virus even as the toll has been accelerating once more, holding a slew of rallies with little social distancing or mask use.
He has repeatedly told supporters that the country is "rounding the curve" on Covid infections.
But Americans, wary of crowded polling booths on Election Day as the virus spreads, are voting early in record numbers.