Jul 14, 2018 08:12 Asia/Tehran
  • Cameroon minister ambushed in Anglophone region, 'assailants killed'

A convoy transporting Cameroonian Defence Minister Joseph Beti Assomo was ambushed in the country’s restive Anglophone region, leaving several attackers dead, state radio reported.

Four soldiers and a reporter were also injured in attack, other sources said, while the journalist said the convoy was ambushed again just a short time later.

News of the brazen assault came as the country’s 85-year-old president Paul Biya, who has ordered a crackdown in the troubled region.

Journalist Gregoire Djarmaila, who writes for the state daily the Cameroon Tribune and was injured by flying glass, said the attack occurred as Beti Assomo was heading for a visit to a military position seven kilometres (about four miles) from the town of Kumba.

The convoy comprised about 30 vehicles, including an armour-plated vehicle that was carrying the minister and six generals, he said.

It encountered a roadblock about halfway along the route, “and our vehicles were riddled by gunfire, coming from houses that been abandoned because of the war,” Djarmaila said.

The military escort returned fire, enabling the convoy to reach the military post.

The ambush occurred in the heartland of an armed campaign to gain independence for the Northwest and Southwest Regions, a predominantly English-speaking part of the French-speaking West African state.

According to a government report last month, anglophone separatists have killed 74 soldiers and seven police since late 2017 while more than 100 civilians had died “over the past 12 months.”

The toll has risen sharply since then. Since the start of this week alone, at least three policeman, including a superintendent, have been killed, and fighting erupted for several hours in Buea itself.

UN says 160,000 people have been internally displaced and 20,000 have sought refuge in neighbouring Nigeria.