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Soldiers in Cameroon shoot dead several independence activists

Soldiers have shot and killed at least seven people and wounded others in the English-speaking regions of Cameroon during protests by activists calling for its independence from the majority-Francophone country, according to official and witnesses.

According to Amnesty International, as many as 15 people have been killed.

Sunday’s [October 1, 2017] demonstrations – timed to take place on the anniversary of Anglophone Cameroon’s independence from Britain – came as a months-old movement against perceived marginalisation by the Francophone-dominated government gathered pace.

One demonstrator was killed by soldiers when he attempted to raise the blue and white Ambazonia flag, which is the name the separatists want for their own state.
Donatus Njong Fonyuy, the mayor of Kumbo, told Reuters that five prisoners were also shot dead after a fire broke out at the local jail. The cause of the fire was unclear.

The anglophones, who make up some 20 percent of the nation’s population, complain of being marginalized and not getting their fair share of the country’s oil revenue.
Marginalization has long been a complaint, but the separatist movement began gathering steam late last year. Sunday’s protests were timed to coincide with the anniversary of anglophone Cameroon’s independence from Britain and reunification with the rest of the nation in 1961. The region could have gone its own way back then and become a sovereign state but opted to join their francophone compatriots.
One separatist group made a symbolic proclamation of independence on Sunday.
“We are no longer slaves of Cameroon,” said Sisiku Ayuk, who describes himself as the “president” of Ambazonia.
“Today we affirm the autonomy of our heritage and our territory,” he said on social media on Sunday.
The recent protests have also become a rallying point against President Paul Biya, who has ruled over Cameroon for the past 35 years.

Cameroon’s divide has its roots in the end of the first world war, when the League of Nations divided the former German colony of Kamerun between the allied French and British victors.

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