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Cameroon summons US envoy over anti-government remarks

US Ambassador to Cameroon Peter Henry Barlerin (file photo)

Cameroonian authorities have summoned the United States’ ambassador to the Foreign Ministry to have him explain his earlier anti-government comments.

US Ambassador Peter Barlerin was called in to the Cameroonian Foreign Ministry on Wednesday.

Earlier, on May 18, Barlerin had accused government forces of the “targeted killing” of separatists in the autonomy-seeking English-speaking regions of the country.

“On the side of the government, there have been targeted killings, detentions without access to legal support, family, or the Red Cross, and burning and looting of villages,” he had alleged in a statement. He had also accused the separatists of “murders of gendarmes, kidnapping of government officials, and burning of schools.”

In related news on Tuesday, the United Nation’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said around 160,000 people had been internally displaced by the fighting between government forces and separatists in Cameroon. Some 20,000 have sought refuge in neighboring Nigeria, according to OCHA.

Soldiers of the 21st Motorized Infantry Brigade patrol in the streets of Buea, Southwest Region of Cameroon, April 26, 2018. (Photo by AFP)

In 2016, separatists from the Anglophone community in the country stepped up a campaign for greater autonomy.

The minority accounts for about a fifth of the country’s population of 22 million.

Cameroon’s President Paul Biya has rejected the Anglophones’ autonomy demands, prompting radicals to issue a full-blown but symbolic declaration of independence last October.

Armed clashes then ensued between government forces and the separatists.

Many Anglophones in the northwest and southwest regions of Cameroon complain of marginalization in education, the judiciary, and the economy.

Since the end of 2016, at least 120 civilians and at least 43 security forces have been killed in the fighting, according to the International Crisis Group (ICG) think tank.

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