Cameroonian soldiers opened fire on villagers during a weekend raid in the country’s southwest, killing up to nine people, including civilians, and injuring others, witnesses, healthcare personnel and a human rights lawyer said on Wednesday.
An army spokesman denied that there were civilian casualties during the incident on Sunday in the village of Mautu in southwest Cameroon, home to a separatist insurgency.
He called the accusation “propaganda.”
For four years, the army has clashed with Anglophone separatist fighters among the forests and cocoa farms of western Cameroon.
More than 3,000 people have died in the violence, which has intensified since the start of this year.
Sunday’s attack was described to reporters by three villagers who said that they fled into nearby cocoa plantations or cowered at home, while soldiers rifled through their belongings.
They said they saw nine dead people, including a child and an old woman.
None of the dead were separatist fighters, they said.
Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said that it was treating four people from the village, all with gunshot wounds: a young child, two elderly patients and a young woman.
“This incident is the latest in a significant upsurge in violence since the year began,” said Gisa Kohler, the MSF emergency coordinator in southwest Cameroon.
Unverified videos shared by sources with knowledge of the attack showed several dead bodies with gunshot wounds, including a woman and a child laid out on a bamboo stretcher, as well as several young men.
“This is an unconventional conflict,” said human rights lawyer Agbor Balla, who said he confirmed at least eight deaths in Mautu on Sunday, based on his own sources.
“Civilians were killed. It was done by the military. We don’t know if others killed were separatists,” he said.
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