Inhabitants of Nacho, Abangoh, and Ntahsah neighborhoods are yet to come to terms, following the killing of 10 persons in the area on Sunday, July 16, 2023.
According to information gathered from reliable sources in Ntahsah, a quarter in Bamenda I where 8 victims came from, they were removed from their homes by gunmen suspected to be separatist fighters and taken to the junction, where they were killed.
“I wasn’t home that fateful evening. Upon returning home at about 6:45 pm, I heard that gunmen entered the quarter and kidnapped some persons. My wife and kids were not home, I called her on the phone, but she didn’t pick up. As I ran to the junction, the first corpse I saw was that of my wife. I carried a corpse for the first time…,” a man whose wife was killed lamented.
According to another eyewitness in the same area, the gunmen came with a car, moved into the street, asking for indigents from the West region( The West region shares a boundary with the North West)
“That evening, I was at my door preparing Eru(a local vegetable dish), and my son ran to me and said some people came and were demanding people from Mbouda (a town in the West region) to enter their car. All those who accepted that they are from the other region were bundled and taken to the junction. We only heard later at about 7 pm that they were killed, “a woman narrated.
The lady whose identity can’t be disclosed for security reasons added that the said gunmen claimed that indigents of the West region showed the hideout of their colleagues to security forces and they were killed. The death of five young men happened a day before the Nacho shootings. Separatists have claimed that four of those men were students. A relative of the five victims had reached out to CNA on July 16, 2023, informing the newsroom that his brother had just left Douala in the Littoral region, to catch up with some jobs in the Bamenda.
“That boy was my nephew and that was the only son of my uncle. he was asked to come for holidays, he said he had some people with whom he has been working, that is what he told his family. That house belonged to someone who was not living there…they were fighting inside the house, and neighbors said they heard noises around…someone called the government forces who came around midnight and fired shots in their direction. The military men did not even enter there, they fired shots and killed 5 of them, that is the story, he was not a fighter, just a stubborn boy,” he told CNA.
Another eyewitness who was at the junction, where the 10 persons were killed revealed that there was no indiscriminate shooting, but only the 8 persons brought from the quarter were targeted and killed. He added that 2 persons were the only victims of stray bullets.
“I belong to a veteran club in Bamenda. So everyone Sunday we usually go and play football and meet somewhere to relax. That Sunday our friends called us for a friendly match and after that, we joined at a drinking spot at the junction and were having fun. Out of a sudden, gunmen dressed in civilian and mixed attires landed onboard a car, fired gunshots in the air, and asked everyone to lie down. They removed 8 persons from the car, and shot them dead saying they were ‘black legs’. Stray bullets killed one of my members and another person whom I don’t know. Two others were wounded. It was after they went that we heard all the first 8 persons are Bamileke(people from the West region),” he said.
The victims including 3 women and 7 men were later that evening confirmed dead at the Bamenda regional hospital, where they were rushed for treatment by the population. Their corpses were deposited at the hospital mortuary for identification.
Their names as we got include Lontsi Simplice 37, Tonga Raisa 24, Tchoffo Virginie 39, Dontiuo Boris 40, Chi Martin 57, Tindo Berthus 25, Mbate Remond 28, Njei Alfred 56, Tchinda Dyliane 18, Tchoffo Rodrigue 35.
Among them is a couple, Lontsi Simplice and Tonga Raissa. They were killed, as they left behind 3 kids ages below 10.
On Monday, July 17, the government of Cameroon reacted through the Ministry of Defense by saying the act was carried out by Separatists.
“A group of about a dozen secessionists, deceptively dressed in military gear similar to those of the Army and carrying riffles, gathered a few innocent citizens before firing heavily and indiscriminately at them, leading to the death of a few customers comfortably seated at a table,” a section of the press release says.
As of the time of this report, one of the two who were wounded was discharged, meaning another who received a bullet in his stomach is still under treatment. Some of the corpses were removed and buried by family members, while some were still in the mortuary with restrictions from the government.
The incident has instilled fear in the people, causing some of them to relocate from the neighborhood.
Targetting Francophones, the new normal with Ambazonia Governing Council
At the time when accusations fingers were pointing at Separatists fighting in the Anglophone regions, without a specific group being named, the leaders of a frontline group, Ambazonia Governing Council, Ayaba Cho Lucas said, his signed orders for such actions to be taken whenever government forces kill an Anglophone. In a video posted on the group’s Facebook page on July 18, 2023, the leader who also commands the group’s armed wing said, his “boys” investigated the killing of five young men on July 15, 2023, and discovered that four were students. They had to take action for revenge for their death.
“Let me very clear to Cameroon- one Ambazonian is equal to three Cameroonians- going forward, you attack our civilian population, they will reciprocate,” he warned.
Ayaba July 2023
The Norway-based leader of the armed group furthered that, since Cameroonian soldiers have failed to respect the Geneva Convention, they will not respect it either.
“A few days ago, I signed an executive order, it will not only be enforced by our forces, you must assist, you must identify all those who facilitate and enable the killings of our people…no chief will be spared…and I warn those of the Savanna( North West ) including the ADF and all other forces who arrest and release…I am talking to you soldiers of the Savanna…all the forces, you arrest and release, I will call you out, they do not release, they kill our own…when Cameroon begins to respect the Geneva Convention, we will do the same.”
Though Ayaba Cho Lucas did not say clearly that his fighters carried out the Nacho -Banagoh attack, he gave clues to justify the act, “Few days ago they went into Awing quarters, directed by blacklegs, they went into a home where students were just having their fun, they killed all of them, unarmed, no resistance, they murdered all of them in cold blood…our forces did their investigations and got the facts, four of those killed were students…no words, no chiefs marching, no archbishops…”
An ADF dissident, formerly aiding as the Deputy Defense Chief and Spokesman of the separatist group, Ngong Emmanuel, also known as Capo Daniel, said Ayaba’s narratives are false.
“What you have to know is that with time, things are getting clearer, we have spoken with some of those family members of the men who were killed…a fighter who told me that those men were thieves and not fighters…that some of those killed had staged a kidnapping and the mother of the girl who claimed to have been kidnapped called state forces and directed them to the area.”
This is the first time since 2016 when the conflict started in the Anglophone regions, that a leader has openly called for the killing of Francophones-Ayaba Cho Lucas, says the decision is in the interest of Anglophones.
Source: Cameroon News Agency