Condemnation has heightened in Cameroon, over the brutal killing of at least seven school children, in one of the country’s restive Anglophone regions.
On Saturday October 24, gunmen stormed the Mother Francisca International Bilingual Academy in Kumba, South West region, and opened fire on students in a classroom.
Five students are said to have died on the spot, with over ten others injured. Two students later died in hospital.
The perpetrators of Saturday’s act are not yet known, but both government and Anglophone separatist groups have traded the blame. This is not the first time both actors in the Anglophone armed conflict are blaming each other for atrocities committed in the crisis-hit English-speaking regions.
What has the reaction been like?
Since the act against school children on Saturday, there has been a wave of mass criticism from within and out of Cameroon. The condemnation keeps rising by the day.
On Monday, Cameroon’s President Paul Biya condemned the killing in a tweet, calling it “barbaric” and “cowardly.”
Barrister Akere Muna, a Cameroonian politician and international human rights lawyer, was appalled by the news. He tagged the killing as “savagery” and “mayhem.”
Meanwhile, Barrister Felix Agbor Balla could not hold back his indignation. He is a human rights lawyer, and founder of the Center for Human Rights and Democracy in Africa, which has documented numerous atrocities committed in the two Anglophone regions of Cameroon.
“It is unacceptable for anyone or groups of persons to harass, attack, and or kill children. It is a fundamental right for children to be educated. Hence, the perpetrators of these heinous crimes should be held accountable. My sincere and heartfelt condolences to their families,” he tweeted.
Moreover, the event on Saturday equally triggered grave international response. In fact, the reactions have been massive and global. The African Union Commission Chairperson, Moussa Faki Mahamat was among those who denounced the attack.
Cameroonian athletes, artists, civil society actors and ordinary Cameroonians have also expressed their anger. On Sunday, Cameroonians in Kumba — where the shooting took place — and in other Francophone regions staged protests, denouncing the killing of the students. They equally demanded an end to the four-year-long armed conflict in Anglophone Cameroon.
International organizations such as the UN, have also condemned it. Many other individuals and groups abroad have added their voices to denounce what is now known in Cameroon as the “Kumba massacre.”
Amid the blame game, the Cameroonian public is now confused about who the actual killers of the school children are. However, they are unanimous that the perpetrators of the act need to face the law.
The government has announced an investigation, but it remains largely unclear whether the findings will be made public.
Saturday’s killings might just be an indication that the situation in Anglophone Cameroon remains dire, and needs an urgent solution.