The Anglophone Crisis, also known as the Ambazonia War, is a conflict in the Southern Cameroons region of Cameroon, part of the long-standing Anglophone problem. In September 2017, separatists in the Anglophone territories of Northwest Region and Southwest Region (collectively known as Southern Cameroons) declared the independence of Ambazonia and began fighting against the Government of Cameroon.
- 1 Background
- 2 Prelude
- 3 Start of hostilities
- 4 Strategy
- 5 Casualties
- 6 Alleged war crimes reports
- 7 Humanitarian consequences
- 8 Other consequences
- 9 International reactions
- 10 Notes
- 11 References
The name "Ambazonia" is taken from Ambas Bay and Ambozes, the local name of the mouth of the Wouri River. This is where the English language was permanently established for the first time in Southern Cameroons, when missionary Alfred Saker founded a settlement of freed slaves by Ambas Bay in 1858, which was later renamed Victoria (present-day Limbe). In 1884, the area became the British Ambas Bay Protectorate, with Victoria as its capital. In 1887, Britain ceded the area to the German territory of Kamerun. Germany had some trouble establishing control over the hinterlands of Victoria, and fought the Bafut Wars against local fondoms until 1907.
Following World War I and the Treaty of Versailles, Kamerun was divided between a French and a British League of Nations Mandate. The French mandate was known as Cameroun, and compromised most of the former German territory. The British mandate was an elongated strip of land along the border of Colonial Nigeria, consisting of Northern Cameroons and Southern Cameroons, including the historical Ambas Bay Protectorate.
The British administered the territories through indirect rule, allowing native authorities to administer the population according to their own traditions. These authorities were also responsible for collecting taxes on behalf of the British, who had devoted themselves to exploiting the economic and mining resources of the territory. South Cameroons students, including E. M. L. Endeley, created the Cameroons Youth League (CYL) on 27 March 1940, to oppose what they saw as the exploitation of their country.
When the League of Nations ceased to exist in 1946, most of the mandate territories were reclassified as UN trust territories, henceforth administered through the UN Trusteeship Council. The object of trusteeship was to prepare the lands for eventual independence. The United Nations approved the Trusteeship Agreements for British Cameroons to be governed by Britain on 6 December 1946.
At a conference in London from 30 July to 22 August 1953, the Southern Cameroons delegation asked for a separate region of its own. The British agreed, and Southern Cameroons became an autonomous region with its capital still at Buea. Elections were held in 1954 and the parliament met on 1 October 1954, with E. M. L. Endeley as Premier. As Cameroon and Nigeria prepared for independence, South Cameroons nationalists debated whether their best interests lay with union with Cameroon, union with Nigeria or total independence.
The United Nations organised a plebiscite in the region on 11 February 1961 which put two alternatives to the people: union with Nigeria or union with Cameroon. The third option, independence, was opposed by the British representative to the UN Trusteeship Council, Sir Andrew Cohen, and as a result was not put. In the plebiscite, 60% of voters in the Northern Cameroons voted for union with Nigeria, while 70% of voters in the Southern Cameroons opted for union with Cameroon. Endeley was defeated in elections on 1 February 1959 by John Ngu Foncha.
Southern Cameroons became part of Cameroon on 1 October 1961. However, the English-speaking peoples of the Southern Cameroons did not believe that they were fairly treated by the French-speaking government of the country. Following a French Cameroon unilateral referendum on 20 May 1972, a new constitution was adopted in Cameroon which replaced the federal state with a unitary state, and also gave more power to then-president Ahmadou Ahidjo. Southern Cameroons lost its autonomous status and became the Northwest Region and the Southwest Region of the Republic of Cameroon.
Pro-independence groups claim that UN Resolution 1608 21 April 1961, which required the UK, the Government of the Southern Cameroons and Republic of Cameroun to engage in talks with a view to agreeing measures for union of the two countries, was not implemented, and that the Government of the United Kingdom was negligent in terminating its trusteeship without ensuring that proper arrangements were made. They say that the adoption of a federal constitution by Cameroun on 1 September 1961 constituted annexation of South Cameroons.
In a memorandum dated 20 March 1985, Anglophone lawyer and President of the Cameroon Bar Association Fon Gorji Dinka wrote that the Biya government was unconstitutional and announced the former Southern Cameroons should become independent as the Republic of Ambazonia. Dinka was incarcerated the following January without trial. Three years later, he escaped to Nigeria.
In 1993, representatives of Anglophone groups convened the first All Anglophone Conference (AAC1) in Buea. The conference issued the "Buea Declaration", which called for constitutional amendments to restore the 1961 federation. This was followed by the second All Anglophone Conference (AAC2) in Bamenda in 1994. This conference issued the "Bamenda Declaration", which stated that if the federal state was not restored within a reasonable time, Southern Cameroons would declare its independence. The AAC was renamed the Southern Cameroons Peoples Conference (SCPC), and later the Southern Cameroons Peoples Organisation (SCAPO), with the Southern Cameroons National Council (SCNC) as the executive governing body. Younger activists formed the Southern Cameroons Youth League (SCYL) in Buea on 28 May 1995. The SCNC sent a delegation, led by John Foncha, to the United Nations, which was received on 1 June 1995 and presented a petition against the 'annexation' of the Southern Cameroons by French Cameroon. This was followed by a signature referendum the same year, which the organisers claim produced a 99% vote in favour of independence with 315,000 people voting.
In 2006, Nigeria ceded the Bakassi Peninsula to Cameroon, ending a decade-long territorial dispute. Local militias resenting Cameroonian authorities tied their cause to the Ambazonian independence movement, and in November 2007, the "Liberators of the Southern Cameroon People", a previously unknown group, killed 21 Cameroonian soldiers in Bakassi. Most militias in Bakassi laid down their arms in September 2009, and the local conflict was never connected to the wider separatist cause.
Start of hostilities
On September 9, 2017, the Ambazonia Defense Council (ADC) deployed the Ambazonia Defence Forces (ADF) in Southern Cameroons. ADC Chief Benedict Kuah formally declared war on the Government of Cameroon and the launching of combat operations to achieve the independence of the Federation of Ambazonia. The ADC declared,
"The state of war that has been declared on the state of Ambazonia by the illegitimate and brutal colonial Government of La Republique du Cameroun is hereby engaged in self-defense and for the liberation of the Federation of Ambazonia from systematic human rights abuses and illegal annexation without a union treaty."
In the fall of 2017, several separatist militias emerged, while the ADF stood out as the most prominent one. The ADF began its guerilla campaign in Manyu and Mezam, and throughout 2017 it clashed with the army 13 times. By the end of the year, separatist militias were active in five provinces.
- On September 9, the ADF carried out a guerilla attack against military base in Besongabang, Manyu Division. The ADF commander in charge claimed his soldiers managed to return to base unreduced. Three Cameroonian soldiers were killed in the attack.
- On September 11, a bomb targeting security forces was detonated in the city of Bamenda. ADF claimed responsibility for the attack.
- On September 21, an improvised bomb wounded three police officers in Bamenda. Separatists were blamed for the attack, which the governor described as an act of terrorism.
- On September 22, Cameroonian troops opened fire against Anglophone protestors. According to eyewitnesses, five people were shot dead and many more were injured.
- On October 1, Ambazonia unilaterally declared its independence, and the Cameroonian Army moved into the region in force to fight the separatists. At least eight people died in clashes between police and demonstrators in Buea and Bamenda. The separatists strategically choose this date for mass demonstrations, as it is the anniversary for the unification of Cameroon and Southern Cameroons.
- On October 9, the Cameroonian military claimed to have stopped "hundreds of Nigerian fighters" from entering Southern Cameroons to join the struggle.
- On November 8, secessionists killed two or three Cameroonian gendarmes in Bamenda.
- On November 9, Cameroon issued international arrest warrants for 15 separatist leaders, including President Sisiku Ayuk Tabe. Two Cameroonian soldiers were killed by separatists in two attacks the following night.
- On November 29, two soldiers and two policemen were killed near the town Mamfe.
- Throughout November, eight soldiers, at least 14 civilians and five fugitives were confirmed killed due to the conflict. Four soldiers and two policemen were killed in the last week of the month.
- On December 1, ahead of a planned Cameroonian offensive, authorities in the Manyu Department ordered people from 16 villages to evacuate, saying that anyone defying those orders will be treated as separatists.
- On December 4, the Cameroonian government officially declared war on "these terrorists who seek secession", referring to the ADF.
- On December 7, Cameroonian forces retook the villages of Bafia and Muyenge.
- On December 9, an attack on a military post near Mamfe left six separatists and one Cameroonian police officer dead. The Cameroonian government claimed that 200 guerillas took part in the attack, using guns, spears and machetes.
- On December 14, an elite army unit started an operation to retake villages that were controlled by the separatists.
- On December 15, the Cameroonian Army repelled a separatist attack on Dadi, a village near Mamfe.
- On December 18, four gendarmes were killed by separatists in Kembong.
- On December 20, Nigerian sources claimed Cameroonian soldiers crossed the border into Nigeria in pursuit of separatist fighters. While the governments of both Nigeria and Cameroon denied that any such incidents had taken place, Cameroonian military officials had previously accused Nigeria of sheltering separatists.
- Between December 18–23, Cameroonian troops destroyed dozens of houses and killed, beat and arrested several civilians in Kembong and Babong, Manyu Department, in retaliation for the killing of security forces.
Throughout 2018, the conflict spread to new parts of Southern Cameroons and intensified in terms of violence. By October, the ADF alone had clashed with the army 83 times. Separatist militias were now active in 12 provinces, and carried out more lethal attacks than the previous year. According to an International Crisis Group analyst, as of October no side was winning, with the army being unable to defeat the separatists, while the separatists were not militarily strong enough to expel the army.
- On January 5, members of the Ambazonia Interim Government were detained in Nigeria by unknown parties. Voice of America reported that Julius Ayuk Tabe and six others were taken into custody at a hotel in Abuja. Later reports claimed that the separatist leaders had been extradited to Cameroon. These reports were later claimed to be false, as Nigeria released some leaders in February. However, in April the Cameroonian government revealed that the separatist leaders were indeed extradited on January 26. Among the total of 47 individuals, most had submitted claims for political asylum.
- On January 25, separatists attacked a Cameroonian border crossing from the Nigerian side of Cross River.
- On January 31, Nigeria claimed that 80 Cameroonian gendarmes had crossed into Nigeria to pursue separatist fighters, after separatists had escaped across the border.
- On February 1, separatists killed three Cameroonian gendarmes in towns in the North West Region.
- On February 4, it was announced that Dr. Samuel Ikome Sako would become the Acting President of the Federal Republic of Ambazonia, succeeding Tabe.
- On February 11, three Cameroonian soldiers were killed and four wounded in the town of Kembong, hours after President Biya described the situation in Southern Cameroons as "stable".
- On February 12, a local chief in Mundemba was shot and killed by separatists. The separatists claimed he had assisted the army in rounding up separatists.
- On February 14, separatists announced via social media announced they had captured a Cameroonian officer. The Cameroonian military confirmed a top official had gone missing.
- On February 19, a student gendarme was killed in Nguti, along the Kumba-Mamfe road.
- On February 20, two separatist fighters were killed by Cameroonian soldiers in Mundemba.
- On February 21, a teacher was killed by suspected separatists in Tombel, Southwest Region.
- On February 24, separatists abducted the government’s regional representative for social affairs in the Northwest Region, the second such abduction in two weeks. The ADF announced its willingness to exchange the kidnapped officials for imprisoned separatist activists.
- On March 3, the Battle of Batibo took place. It was largest clash yet between security forces and separatists. According to reports, separatists attacked Cameroonian soldiers who were celebrating having recently recaptured most villages in the Batibo Subdivision. While the number of casualties remained unclear, information that circulated on social media claimed that 70 security forces and hundreds of separatists were killed in the battle. Over 4,000 locals fled after the confrontation.
- On March 11, Ambazonian forces released a video of an abducted government official.
- On March 13, heavy fighting took place in the village of Nguti, forcing civilians to hide in the forests.
- On March 19, security forces rescued a professor who had been captured two days prior by men claiming to be the ADF.
- On March 20, Cameroonian troops freed two Cameroonian and one Tunisian hostages in Meme Department. The hostages had been taken five days prior, and another Tunisian hostage had already been killed by his captors.
- On March 30, a soldier was killed in Konye, Meme Department, and another soldier was killed in Daadi.
- On April 4, Cameroon freed seven Swiss, six Cameroonian and five Italian hostages in the Anglophone area. While Cameroon claimed "seccessionist terrorists" were behind the hostage taking, the ADF denied any responsibility, claiming that "ADF does not take hostages. ADF arrest enablers and collaborators and does not arrest foreign nationals".
- On April 7, two soldiers were killed and several others were wounded at the Aziz security post, Southwest Region.
- On April 11, according to the newspaper The Voice, Cameroonian soldiers killed 18 civilians and destroyed their property, in retaliation of the killing of a commissioner. The Cameroonian Army denied the incident. In another incident, separatists attacked a military convoy in Ekondo-Titi, Ndian Department, wounding three soldiers. According to the Cameroonian military, the separatists were eventually neutralized, and the convoy reached its destination.
- On April 12, a Cameroonian soldier was shot dead while clearing a road block mounted by separatists.
- On April 13, gunfights took place near the villages Ediki and Bombe Bakundu, Moungo Division, causing hundreds of civilians to flee to Mbanga.
- On April 18, three Cameroonian soldiers were killed in an attack in Eyumodjock.
- On April 20, two Cameroonian soldiers were killed and another four were injured by a landmine in the town of Eyumedjock, near the border with Nigeria.
- On April 23, in a possible attempt to assassinate the governor of the Southwest Region, separatists fired at his convoy. No casualties were reported.
- On April 25, following a battle, separatists forced the Cameroonian Army to retreat from the town of Belo.
- On April 28, two Cameroonian gendarmes were killed in the Northwest Region. According to local reports, some gendarmes were also taken prisoner.
- On May 2, three Cameroonian soldiers were killed in an attack on a military base in the town of Mbonge, Southwest Region.
- On May 6, there was heavy fighting in Muyuka.
- On May 8, unidentified men attacked the Government High School in Bafut, Mezam Department.
- On May 10, separatists attacked a police station in Muyuka and freed at least four detainees. No casualties were reported.
- On May 16, a policeman was killed by separatists in Oshe, Momo Division.
- On May 20, in an effort to boycott celebrations of Cameroon's National Day, Ambazonian forces struck in several villages throughout Southern Cameroons, including Konye, Batibo, Ekona. Four police officers and three militants were killed in fighting at Batibo. The mayor of the town of Bangem was kidnapped for distributing uniforms to people to march in National Day ceremonies.
- On May 24, 30 people were killed when Cameroonian forces stormed a hotel in the town of Pinyin.
- At an unspecified point in May, the Cameroonian Army retook Belo from the separatists. Fighting continued around the town, while nearly all the villagers fled.
- On June 5, separatists abducted a policeman. Two days later, they released a video of him saying he had been treated well, while claiming that government forces had committed atrocities.
- On June 11, a Cameroonian soldier was killed in an ambush in the town of Furu-Awa in the Menchum Department.
- On June 16, a police officer was killed while on patrol in Fundong, Boyo Division. The same day, Ambazonian started a blockade of the Kumba-Buea highway at Ekona, a town located approximately 10 kilometers from Buea. A military assault on the separatists in Ekona failed to lift the blockade. While casualties related to the battle of Ekona remain unconfirmed, the Cameroonian government later declared that more than 40 soldiers and policemen died in the later half of June (however, this figure includes all of Southern Cameroons, not just Ekona).
- On June 21, separatists attacked a police patrol team in Mbengwi, Momo Department.
- On June 22, a policemen and two civilians were killed in armed clashes in Bamenda.
- On June 29, separatists mounted roadblocks in the Mile 16 neighborhood in Buea, Southwest Region. The Cameroonian Army responded forcefully, and civilians fled into the bush to avoid getting caught in the crossfire. This happened after several smaller skirmishes in Mile 16 between separatists and the army. In Mbengwi, Momo Department, separatists killed one soldiers and wounded another five in an ambush on an army vehicle. The Cameroonian Army claimed that six separatists were killed when reinforcements arrived to evacuate the wounded soldiers.
- On July 1, separatists invaded the Muea neighborhood of Buea. The separatists battled intervening government troops, set up roadblocks and unsuccessfully tried to burn down a police station. In Mbengwi, a Cameroonian soldier was killed in an ambush. In Penda Mboko Littoral Region, Southwest Region, separatists stormed a gendarmerie post, catching the few gendarmes present off-guard. After hours of shootouts, the attackers overwhelmed the defenders, burned down the post and escaped before Cameroonian reinforcements could arrive.
- On July 7, a gendarme officer was killed along the Bamenda-Ndop road.
- On July 9, separatists invaded several parts of Buea, including the neighborhoods of Bonduma, Malingo and Molyko, and clashed with the army and the police. Another battle took place in Kumba. In total, more than 10 civilians and an unknown number of soldiers died in the clashes.
- On July 11, a student at Bamenda University was shot dead by the Cameroonian military.
- On July 12, separatists carried out an unsuccessful assassination attempt on Defense Minister Joseph Beti Assomo, who was visiting the Anglophone region with a delegation. In the evening, his convoy was ambushed by separatists using guns and poisoned spears. The Cameroonian Army claimed to have killed 10 separatists in the ensuing 30-minute battle. Four soldiers and a journalist were injured, but the Defense Minister escaped unharmed. The separatists had previously warned Assomo from visiting Ambazonia.
- On July 13, separatists invaded the Mile 4 neighborhood of Limbe, Southwest Region. The clashes continued for two days, until the Cameroonian Army managed to repel the separatists.
- On July 17, separatists invaded Bamenda to enforce a "ghost town", and a Cameroonian counterattack left a separatist and a Cameroonian soldier dead.
- On July 18, a policeman was killed and decapitated by separatists in Wum, Northwest Region.
- On July 28, separatists carried out the Ndop prison break, freeing 163 inmates and burning down the prison.
- On July 30, clashes between security forces and alleged separatists took place in the Bonduma gate neighborhood of Buea. Security forces killed four civilians after allegedly mistaking them for being separatists. Clashes were also reported in Tiko, Fako Division.
- On July 31, separatist fighters attacked a checkpoint in Wum, injuring three security officers, seizing weapons and setting fire to a gendarmerie vehicle.
- On August 4, a police officer was killed in his home in Mutengene, close to Tiko, Southwest Region.
- On August 5, four gendarmes were killed in Eso, a village near Wum, Northwest Region.
- On August 15, Cameroonian troops raided a separatist camp at Tabli, Lebialem Department, killing five and injuring three separatists, as well as freeing one hostage. Later the same day, separatists attacked soldiers leading a convoy of trucks out of Muea neighborhood of Buea.
- On August 16, separatists attacked a convoy transporting a member of parliament in Babungo, Ngo-Ketunjia Department. At least four soldiers were killed, and several others in the convoy were injured. A civilian who got caught in the crossfire also got killed.
- On August 22, there was an arson attack against a road construction company in Bamenda.
- On August 24, separatists attacked a gendarme brigade in Zhoa in Wum, Northwest Region, killing two gendarmes and wounding the brigade commander. According to initial reports, separatists had blocked the road in advance, and reinforcements from the larger Wum brigade thus failed to arrive in time. A spokesperson of the Cameroonian Army later claimed that 12 separatists had been killed and several others had been wounded, and said that the army had launched an operation to root out separatists in the area.
- On August 27, as a response to the separatist attack from there, the Cameroonian Army burned down Zhoa.
- On August 28, separatists killed a retired gendarme officer in Batibo, after accusing him of lending his car to soldiers.
- On August 29, separatists kidnapped the Fon of Oku, allegedly for assisting the Cameroonian Army against the separatists.
- On September 1, it was reported that the Tole neighborhood of Buea had been completely deserted following clashes between separatists and security forces. At least two civilians were killed in the course of the fighting, and the palace of the traditional ruler was burned down. There were also several armed clashes throughout Bali, Northwest Region. In one of the clashes, the residence of the Secretary of State for Penitentiary Administration was burnt down, while in another clash separatists attacked gendarmes in Ntafong, a neighborhood of Bali.
- Between September 1 and 2, at least five people were Ndop, reportedly for campaigning for the ruling Cameroon People's Democratic Movement ahead of the Presidential elections. Two sons of a former Divisional Officer of Ndop were also kidnapped, a principal and six students were abducted by unknown armed men, and a head teacher was attacked.
- On September 2, four separatists were killed and one captured in Muyuka during a Cameroonian offensive in the area. Three Cameroonian soldiers were also wounded in the battle.
- On September 4, separatists invaded Bamenda to attack the convoy of the Minister of Basic Education. The first shootings took place in the Mile 2 neighborhood, where two gendarmes were wounded. The separatists then attacked soldiers on Foncha street, starting a gunfight that lasted for hours. The incidents paralyzed the city, with businesses closing as employees went home. Civilian casualties were reported, though the number was hard to determine. The same day, the Fon of Bafut was abducted from his palace by gunmen who accused him of aiding the Cameroonian Army; his captors released him hours later. In Ndop, the Cameroonian Army destroyed three separatist camps and claimed to have killed about a dozen separatist fighters, including an ex-gendarme officer who had joined the separatists. The Cameroonian Army suffered two wounded.
- At night on September 4 breaking September 5, a Cameroonian Army operation killed 27 suspected separatists fighters in Yemngeh near Zhoa in Wum, Northwest Region.
- On September 5, a truck transporting government soldiers was attacked en route Oku, leading it to lose control and tumble over. Five soldiers died and another 10 were wounded. The Cameroonian Army claimed that two separatists were also killed in the incident.
- On September 7, four civilians were killed by Cameroonian soldiers in Ekona.
- On September 8, at least two people were killed in Bamenda when separatist elements attacked a construction site and a bus.
- On September 9, 50 or more separatists carried out three simultaneous attacks in Oku; on the gendarmerie brigade, a police station, and the home of the Assistant Divisional Officer. The separatists burned down the police station, destroyed Assistant DO's belongings, stole a police van and abducted three police officers.
- On September 11, separatists invaded the Mile 16 neighborhood of Buea, blocking the road and burning a bus.
- On September 12, at least 15 separatists were killed when the Cameroonian Army raided one of their camps near Chomba. The same day, armed men attempted and failed to abduct the Fon of Buea.
- On September 13, separatists attacked a gendarmerie brigade in Nkwen, near Bamenda. The Cameroonian Army claimed to have killed six separatists while repulsing the attack.
- On September 15, the road between Wum and Bamenda was reopened after a two-week blockade.
- On September 17, there was heavy fighting in Oku. In Njikwa, the Cameroonian Army destroyed a separatist camp in a raid in which they claimed 30 separatists were killed.
- On September 21, an Ambazonian commander was killed in a Cameroonian raid on a separatist base in Kumba.
- On September 22, seven young men were killed in Mbiame. While the Cameroonian Army claimed they were separatists, locals disputed this. At least one of them was captured alive and summarily executed.
- On September 23, separatists attacked a gendarmerie post in Limbe, injuring a student gendarme and seizing weapons.
- On September 24, Cameroonian soldiers killed two civilians in Buea while patrolling during a "ghost town".
- On September 25, separatists attacked a prison in Wum, enabling over 100 inmates to escape.
- On September 26, at least three separatists were killed during clashes with security forces in Bamenda. In Limbe, two police inspectors were killed by separatists who made an unsuccessful attempt to burn down the police station there. In Buea, security forces killed at least seven civilians, six of whom were rounded up ans summarily executed.
- On September 28, the Cameroonian Army raided a separatist camp near Ndop, destroying the camp and killing six separatist fighters.
- On September 29, a Cameroonian Army officer was beheaded in Tatum. In ensuing clashes, four separatists were killed.
- On September 30, in anticipation of the first anniversary of Ambazonia's declaration of independence on October 1, the authorities imposed a 48-hour curfew throughout the Anglophone region. This was done to prevent a reoccurrence of the mass demonstrations that took place the year before. People were forbidden from moving across sub-division boundaries, and gathering of four or more people in public was prohibited. Businesses were shut down and motor parks were closed as well. Meanwhile, in anticipation of the Cameroonian presidential election on October 7, the separatists started enforcing a lockdown of their own. To this end, they blocked major highways with trees or car wrecks. Throughout the day, security forces and separatists clashed in Buea, Bamenda and other cities.
- On October 5, three separatists were killed in clashes in Small Soppo, a neighborhood of Buea. Cameroonian forces also attacked a separatist camp in Lysoka, a town close to Buea. In Bamenda, a priest was killed by a government soldier.
- On October 6, gunmen stormed the Kumba High Court and burned down the building.
- On October 7, the day of the Cameroonian presidential election, there were clashes all over Southern Cameroons, as separatists moved to prevent what they considered a foreign election to take place in Ambazonia. This resulted in a very low turnout, and in many cases, no officials showed up to man the polling stations. In Bamenda, at least 20 separatist fighters moved around openly to prevent people from voting. Two separatists were killed by government troops while attacking a polling station. Following the election, two people from Kumba were murdered for having voted.
- On October 11, Cameroonian troops killed four suspected separatist fighters in Misaje and another seven in Eshobi. Six hostages were also released in Eshobi.
- On October 14, Cameroonian soldiers rounded up and shot four boys in Mutengene, Fako Division.
- On October 17, SDF President John Fru Ndi's house in Bamenda was set on fire by armed men. In Muyuka, a teenager was killed by security forces during a clash with armed groups.
- On October 18, at least one civilian was killed during clashes in the Mile 14 and Mile 15 neighborhoods of Buea. Three soldiers were also wounded.
- On October 19, the Cameroonian Army announced it had killed 17 suspected separatists in Ndopand five in Bafut over the weekend.
- On October 21, security forces attacked a separatist camp in Oku. At least eight separatists were killed, while four Cameroonian soldiers were seriously wounded.
- On October 23, the Cameroonian Army launched simultaneous attacks on seven or more separatist camps in the Northwest Region. The fighting continued for more than 24 hours, and at least 30 separatists were killed as well as an unknown number of Cameroonian soldiers. One Cameroonian soldier was confirmed killed. The Cameroonian Army also attacked suspected separatists in Bombe Bakundu, Southwest Region.
- On October 24, Cameroonian forces assaulted two separatist camps in Oku. The separatists had been tipped of the incoming assault, and had evacuated the bases earlier the same day. A single fighter stayed behind and carried out an ambush, injuring six soldiers before he was killed.
- On October 29, heavy fighting broke out in Bambili, Northwest Region, with separatists attacking security forces by the Fon's palace. The fighting continued the next day, when separatists attacked the Bambili gendarmerie brigade. In Penda Mboko, Littoral Region (near the border with the Southwest Region), gunmen attacked and tried to burn down a school, but were repelled by security forces.
- On October 30, an American missionary was caught in the crossfire and killed in Bambui. Security forces and separatists blamed each other for his death.
- On November 3, separatists chopped the fingers off six plantation workers. Separatists had ordered a strike to protest the reelection of President Biya, and allegedly mutilated the workers as punishment for defying those orders and going to work.
- On November 4, 79 students and four staff members were kidnapped from a school in Nkwen, near Bamenda. The kidnappers transported everyone to Bafut, slipping past several security checkpoints on the way. The purpose of the kidnapping was to tell the students to stop going to school, a message they were tasked to convey to other schools as well. Cameroonian authorities announced the launching of an operation to locate and free the students. All 79 students were released without ransom three days later, with the Cameroonian Army claiming the kidnappers did so because they realized they were surrounded and had no other alternative. On November 12, the principal and the three staff members were released too. While the kidnappers identified as "Amba Boys" and the government blamed the separatists, the Ambazonia Self-Defence Council claimed that they not only had nothing to do with the kidnappings, but had also sent its own fighters to try to locate the children.
- On November 5, armed men killed two people in Batibo, both of whom had been suspected of having assisted the security forces.
- On the weekend of November 10-11, an Ambazonian commander was killed in a shootout in Kumbo.
- On November 10, a staff member at Buea University was abducted by gunmen.
- On November 11, according to the separatists, 13 Cameroonian soldiers and two separatists were killed when separatists carried out a successful ambush.
- On November 12, Cameroonian soldiers ambushed and killed at least 13 suspected separatists in Donga-Mantung. In Buea, separatists ambushed and killed a retired policeman who they suspected was spying for the army.
- On November 13, 25 separatists were killed near Nkambé, according to Cameroonian security officials. In Mwa, Donga-Mantung, the town's mayor was killed by unidentified gunmen. In Buea, a teacher at a government high school was kidnapped by three armed men, who also beat up another teacher and some students.
- On November 16, Cameroonian forces ambushed and killed at least ten separatist fighters in Belo, including a general. In Buea, a staff member at Buea University was abducted.
- On November 18, unidentified gunmen kidnapped a policeman in Kumba, releasing him the day after for a ransom.
- On November 19, a policeman was kidnapped and beheaded by unidentified gunmen, reportedly despite receiving ransom from the family.
- On November 20, unidentified gunmen kidnapped approximately 25 students and a principal from Lords Bilingual Secondary school in Kumba.
The Cameroonian Army is fighting a counter-insurgency war, aiming to hit the separatists' support base. This includes burning houses where weapons are found and, according to locals but denied by the army, carrying out revenge attacks. In August 2018, the Defence Minister of Cameroon announced that the army would be expanded with 2,600 new recruits, 2,000 of whom would go to the Rapid Intervention Battalion.
The Ambazonian separatists are fighting a guerilla war. As of June 2018, their weapons were mostly hunting rifles, which are far inferior of the automatic weapons used by the Cameroonian Army. Numerically and materially disadvantaged, the separatists carry out hit-and-run attacks, ambushes and raids. According to the ADF, as of June 2018 there were 1,500 soldiers in the ADF, spread across 20 camps throughout Southern Cameroons. The militias enjoy significant local support, with civilians giving them food, informing them on troop movements, or outright assisting them in carrying out attacks.
Unlike the Cameroonian soldiers deployed in the region, the separatists are locals, and are thus more familiar with the terrain. Cameroonian General Melingui stated that the separatists have a leverage over the army when it comes to familiarity with the battleground; "They know the terrain. These are youths from local villages. We try to seek them out but we can't find them. Our men aren't familiar with the forest." Cameroonian authorities have admitted that they have little control over the security situation outside the cities. Journalist Emmanuel Freudenthal, who spent a week with ADF rebels, stated that the separatists control much of the countryside because the infrastructure in Southern Cameroons is so poorly developed, making it hard for the Cameroonian government to access those areas.
Ambazonian Governing Council leader in exile Ayaba Cho Lucas summed up the ADF strategy in the following way: "60% of the GDP of Cameroon is earned in Ambazonia. [...] We must try to raise the cost of the occupation to higher than the profits they get here."
Political, diplomatic and propaganda strategy
According to Millan Atam, chairperson of the Southern Cameroonians Congress of the People, the separatists are building up support for their cause through two distinct phases. The first phase was to build internal capability to resist the Cameroonian Army and raise faith in the cause. Once a significant portion of the population of Southern Cameroons clearly wanted separation, the separatists would approach the international community with their cause.
The Cameroonian government has tried to limit the extent of which the conflict affects everyday life in Southern Cameroons, and portrays the war as a battle between chaos and stability in which the government represents the latter. To this end, local authorities have penalized businesses that respected "ghost towns" declared by the separatists. The government has fired and replaced local administrators who fled from the region, despite their valid fears of kidnappings. In September 2018, the army physically prevented people from fleeing their homes.
In August 2018, Minister of Territorial Administration Atanga Nji made a vague offer of amnesty to separatists who surrender their weapons, saying they would "be received as prodigal sons". The minister also announced a plan to rebuild infrastructure that had been destroyed due to the conflict.
Both sides have used WhatsApp to spread propaganda. Cameroonian authorities have arrested journalists on the accusation of propagating false information, the punishment for which is six months to two years in prison.
In late June 2018, the Cameroonian government claimed that more than 120 soldiers and policemen had died since the start of the conflict.
Alleged war crimes reports
There is photographic evidence that shows a consistent policy of burning down villages. The army has claimed that the soldiers who were filmed were separatists wearing stolen Cameroonian Army uniforms, a claim that has been denied by local residents. Satellite images show extensive damage to villages. Journalists have been denied entry to the conflict zones, and soldiers have been forbidden from carrying mobile phones.
In August 2018, the Centre for Human Rights and Democracy in Africa published a list of 106 villages that had been raided by government forces since October 2017. Citing eyewitness accounts, videos and photos as evidence, the Centre claimed that 71 of these villages had been completely destroyed and depopulated, while the remaining 34 had been partially deserted.
At the end of 2017, the separatists declared a school boycott, and have attacked and burnt down schools that refused to shut down. Between February 2017 and May 2018, at least 42 schools were targeted. Some separatists consider schools to be legitimate targets because the French language is taught as a mandatory subject. However, the ADF has denied having any connection to attacks on schools.
Throughout 2017, there were no reports of ADF using violence against civilians. As of October 2018, five such incidents had been reported, though these attacks were for the most part not lethal; one civilian death was attributed to an ADF attack. Other separatist groups had attacked civilians 25 times within the same time frame, and were responsible for 13 civilian deaths.
By January 2018, 15,000 people had fled from Southern Cameroons to Nigeria. This number increased to at least 40,000 people by February. By August 2018, more than 180,000 people had been displaced due to the war.
The conflict has severely harmed the local economy. In June 2018, Cameroon Development Corporation, a state-owned company with 22,000 employees, declared the conflict could lead to the loss of 5,000 jobs on the short term. In July 2018, an NGO reported that the war had caused a 70 percent increase in unemployment in the agricultural sector. The palm oil and cocoa sectors in Southwest Region had taken a severe blow, with state-owned company Pamol abandoning plantations in some areas. The private company Telcar Cocoa reported that the cocoa production had fallen 80 percent. The NGO suggested that companies make deals with the separatists in order to safeguard their facilities. The separatists aim to prevent the Cameroonian state from getting any income from the Anglophone regions, in order to make cost of controlling the region surpass the benefits.
The conflict has triggered an exodus of the Nigerian business community from Southern Cameroons, as well as Nigerian traders who used to run key markets.
Thousands of displaced people have fled to protected areas, endangering the wildlife there.
- African Union – As of July 2018, the African Union has remained largely silent on the Anglophone Crisis.
- European Union – On June 20, 2018, the EU supported the entry of UN bodies to the Anglophone region, and called upon the Cameroonian government to allow this.
- United Nations – On May 30, 2018, the United Nations declared a humanitarian crisis in Southern Cameroons and started organizing aid. Through the declaration, the United Nations assumed responsibility for the safety of civilians in Southern Cameroons, and to this end it could intervene against both warring parties. The United Nations has also called for impartial investigations of possible human rights violations in the Anglophone region.
- Chad – According to unverified reports, Chadian President Idriss Déby agreed to deploy Chadian troops to the Anglophone region to fight the separatists. In February 2018, it was reported that Chadian troops had been fighting in Southern Cameroons for weeks. However, no physical evidence of such a deployment has been provided.
- Equatorial Guinea – In January 2018, President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo called for dialogue as the best way to end the Anglophone crisis.
- Nigeria – President Muhammadu Buhari vowed to prevent the separatists from operating from Nigerian territory; "Nigeria will take necessary measures within the ambit of the law to ensure that her territory is not used as a staging area to destabilise another friendly sovereign country".
- Belgium – In November 2018, a Belgian envoy stated that Cameroon should learn from Belgium when it comes to dealing with multi-lingualism.
- France – France has condemned separatist attacks on soldiers, and has called for dialogue to ensure the unity of Cameroon.
- Germany – Germany supports a resolution through dialogue and reforms.
- United Kingdom – Minister for African Affairs Harriett Baldwin called for the conflict to be "solved democratically".
- United States – According to the U.S. Department of State’s Country Report on Human Rights Practices 2017, Cameroonian forces carried out arbitrary killings, disappearances, torture, violations of freedom of expression and unlawful detentions in harsh prison conditions. In 2018, the United States formally accused the Cameroonian Army of carrying out targeted killings. In November 2018, following the death of an American missionary, the US Department of State issued a statement urging both sides to cease all attacks on civilian targets. The United States also condemned the "systematic intimidation based on ethnic and religious affiliation" in Cameroon.
- Australia – Australian diplomat Alexander Chapman stated that "Australia recommends Cameroon lift unnecessary restrictions on freedom of assembly, investigate the alleged use of force in demonstrations, and ensure arrested protestors receive fair trials."
- Amnesty International – In a report published in June 2018, Amnesty International criticized both sides for using excessive force. The report accused the Cameroonian Army of arbitrary arrests, torture, extrajudicial killings and destruction of property. The report claimed that the Cameroonian Army had obliterated an entire village, citing satellite photos as evidence. The Cameroonian Army denied the findings of the report.
- Biafra – Biafran independence movements have voiced support for the Ambazonian cause. A coalition of Biafran movements has met with the Ambazonian leadership and discussed building a diplomatic and bilateral relationship between Biafra and Ambazonia.
- Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization – Ambazonia was admitted to the UNPO on March 28, 2018. The UNPO criticized Nigeria's extradition of the Ambazonian leadership as a violation of international refugee law, as most of the individuals had submitted political asylum claims.
- Ambazonian guerillas are often referred to as "Amba Boys", a term used both by pro-government forces and by the separatists themselves.
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- Cameroon soldiers kill 13 separatist fighters in Mbinkar, Journal du Cameroun, Nov 13, 2018. Accessed Nov 13, 2018.
- Cameroon: retired police officer killed in Buea, Journal du Cameroun, Nov 14, 2018. Accessed Nov 14, 2018.
- 25 killed in clashes in English-speaking Cameroon - officials, TRT World, Oct 14, 2018. Accessed Oct 14, 2018.
- Cameroon: Mayor of Nwa killed by unidentified armed men, Journal du Cameroun, Nov 15, 2018. Accessed Nov 15, 2018.
- Cameroon: teacher kidnapped as students molested in Buea, Journal du Cameroun, Nov 18, 2018. Accessed Nov 18, 2018.
- Cameroon: ‘Ambazonia General’, nine others killed in Belo, Journal du Cameroun, Nov 16, 2018. Accessed Nov 16, 2018.
- Cameroon: Police Officer beheaded in Nkar, Journal du Cameroun, Nov 20, 2018. Accessed Nov 18, 2018.
- Another mass school kidnap rocks Cameroon’s Anglophone region, Journal du Cameroun, Nov 20, 2018. Accessed Nov 20, 2018.
- 'Dirty war' ravages Cameroon's Buea region, Daily Nation, May 5, 2018. Accessed May 7, 2018.
- Cameroon to recruit 2600 soldiers amidst tension in Anglophone regions, Aug 29, 2018. Accessed Aug 29, 2018.
- Black-On-Black Colonialism: The Divide Between Francophone Cameroon And Anglophone Ambazonia, The Daily Vox, Jun 4, 2018. Accessed Jun 5, 2018.
- Cameroon mayor warns Buea businesses over ghost towns on Mondays, Africa News, Jul 22, 2018. Accessed Aug 23, 2018.
- Biya appoints new Batibo DO, sacks runaway administrators in Anglophone regions, Journal du Cameroun, Sep 20, 2018. Accessed Sep 20, 2018.
- Cameroon intercepts families from fleeing war-torn Anglophone region, CGTN Africa, Sep 16, 2018. Accessed Sep 16, 2018.
- Your future is not in the bushes- Minister Atanga Nji, Journal du Cameroun, Aug 22, 2018. Accessed Aug 22, 2018.
- Cameroon Journalist Jailed in Anglophone Unrest, Voice of America, Nov 8, 2018. Accessed Nov 9, 2018.
- Burning Cameroon: Images you're not meant to see, BBC, Jun 25, 2018. Accessed Jun 25, 2018.
- CHRDA publishes shocking list of military atrocities in Cameroon’s NW, SW regions, Journal du Cameroun, Aug 22, 2018. Accessed Aug 22, 2018.
- Schools Fail to Open in Cameroon's Restive English-speaking Regions, Reliefweb, Sep 4, 2018. Accessed Sep 4, 2018.
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- Cameroon’s Anglophone population at risk, Journal du Cameroun, Aug 23, 2018. Accessed Aug 23, 2018.
- Cameroon: Anglophone crisis could cost 5,000 jobs, Journal du Cameroon, Jun 18, 2018. Accessed Jun 18, 2018.
- Cameroon’s palm oil, cocoa sectors worst hit by crisis, Journal du Cameroun, Jul 19, 2018. Accessed Jul 18, 2018.
- Cameroon’s Nigerian business community is fleeing as the Anglophone crisis deepens, Quartz, Jul 7, 2018. Accessed Jul 9, 2018.
- Cameroon crisis threatens wildlife as thousands flee to protected areas, African Arguments, Jul 12, 2018. Accessed Jul 12, 2018.
- African Union Intervenes In Cameroon Crisis, Taarifa, Jul 12, 2018. Accessed Jul 12, 2018.
- Aid starts to trickle in for “Ambazonians” as UN declares Humanitarian Crisis in South Cameroon, Pan African Visions, Jun 2, 2018. Accessed Jul 13, 2018.
- Cameroon: Chad Deploys Military to Southern Cameroons as Crisis Persists, All Africa, Feb 5, 2018. Accessed Sep 16, 2018.
- Anglophone Crisis: Obiang Nguema steps in, calls for dialogue, Cameroon Concord, Jan 24, 2018. Accessed Jul 5, 2018.
- Nigeria's promise to Cameroon, Africa Review, Feb 13, 2018. Accessed Apr 21, 2018.
- Ambazonia: Germany and Belgium Vow to Support Dialogue in Cameroon , UNPO, Nov 14, 2018. Accessed Nov 14, 2018.
- Britain wants democratic solution to Anglophone crisis, Journal du Cameroun, Jun 13, 2018. Accessed Jun 20, 2018.
- Cameroon forces in gross abuse over Anglophone, Boko Haram crisis – U.S. report, Ghana Web, Apr 23, 2018. Accessed Apr 23, 2018.
- Cameroon army employing targeted killings, U.S. tasks Biya to show leadership, Africa News, May 18, 2018. Accessed May 18, 2018.
- US tasks Cameroon gov’t, separatists to halt atrocities on civilians, Journal du Cameroun, Nov 7, 2018. Accessed Nov 7, 2018.
- Australia condemns Cameroon’s human rights record, Journal du Cameroun, May 18, 2018. Accessed Jun 28, 2018.
- Cameroon: Amnesty Calls for End to Violence, AllAfrica, Jun 14, 2018. Accessed Jun 14, 2018.
- Pro-Biafra groups vow to be under one leadership, The Sun News Online, Jun 28, 2018. Accessed Jun 28, 2018.
- UNPO Welcomes Its Newest Member: Southern Cameroons, UNPO, Mar 28, 2018. Accessed Apr 28, 2018.