By Boris Esono Nwenfor (Cameroon)
The convoy of the Governor of the Southwest Region has suffered two separate attacks from separatist fighters as Governor Bernard Okalia Bilai and his entourage engaged on a trip to visit and assess the state of the Kumba district hospital burnt down by still to be identified people. The attack claimed the lives of some patients and damaged vital parts of the hospital.
Reports indicate that Tuesday February 12 attack happened in Muyuka, Fako Division, and in Mbalangi, Meme Division of the South West Region. The attacks resulted in the shattering of the windscreen of at least two vehicles. Bullet pellets from the pro-separatist fighters, penetrated some of the vehicles, wounding some of its occupants.
Nobody has so far claimed responsibility for the attack on the health facility, which prompted the Governor to visit Kumba. The government has pointed an accusing finger at separatist fighters while Southern Cameroon activists on their part, have accused government forces whom they claim carried out the arson attack after a futile hunt for wounded separatist fighters believed to be receiving medical treatment in some health facilities in Kumba.
Sources say 3 persons received treatment following minor, and major injuries sustained from the attack. Amongst the three wounded, 2 were security forces. A journalist in the convoy, Ines Danielle Ondua, correspondent of Canal 2 television, and Vice President of the Southwest Chapter of the Cameroon Journalists Trade Union, CJTU, sustained injuries during the attack but is reportedly responding to treatment.
The casualties on the side of the separatist forces could not be established, though military sources claimed to have neutralized many fighters during the exchanges.
This is not the first time the SW Governor is attacked carrying out a mission. Last year precisely in April, 2018, Governor Okalia Bilai was attacked on his way to install the new Senior Divisional Officer of Menji, Eta Mokaya Ashu. The convoy that was heavily guarded by Cameroon’s elite forces was attacked twice in Lewo village, the first coming when he was going to Menji and the second on his return journey.
SW Governor is not the only authority to face the full force of separatist fighters as his counterpart in the North West; Adolf Lele L’Afrique’s has also attacked. The convoy of the Governor of the North West region came under attack last December 31, 2018 while he returned from church service, security sources said. At least one soldier was injured in the course of the attack but security forces succeeded to drive the Governor safely home.
Over 20 Ambazonia separatist fighters had erected barricades on the road which prompted a shootout before they could take off to their hideouts.
The journey from Fako to Meme Division is one of the most feared by the population. This is due to the numerous hideouts from the separatist fighters who have taken camps in bushes along the stretch of road. The fighting between security forces and separatist fighters has caused the population to take shelter in bushes while others have sought refuge in neighboring areas and even in Nigeria.