Cameroon Separatists Call for Lockdown as Dozens Die in Unrest

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(Bloomberg) -- Separatists in Cameroon called for a lockdown in the country’s Anglophone regions after a weekend of unrest in which at least 40 people reportedly died.

The call for a lockdown came a week after a military tribunal jailed 10 rebel leaders including Julius Ayuk Tabe, the self-proclaimed president of the area that separatists have labeled Ambazonia, on charges including acts of rebellion.

“We don’t want to catch any moving vehicle,” according to a statement published on social media by Chris Anu, a spokesman for the secessionists. The lockdown that began on Tuesday, a week before school holidays are scheduled to end, will continue until Sept. 16, according to the statement.

The government has “spared no effort and will continue to assume its responsibilities so that young girls and boys in the Northwest and Southwest regions, like their counterparts in other parts of the country, can enjoy their rights to schooling,” government spokesman Rene Emmanuel Sadi said in a statement handed to reporters in the capital, Yaounde.

Separatists have been demanding a breakaway republic in the Anglophone Northwest and Southwest regions since 2016.

The conflict started with peaceful protests against the dominance of the French language in schools and courtrooms of the two regions, where most people speak English. The violence has left hundreds of people dead and forced almost 500,000 others to flee their homes, according to the United Nations.

Fighting between the secessionists and Cameroon’s military at the weekend left at least 40 people dead, Voice of America reported, citing the government. A spokesman for the Defense Ministry declined to comment when contacted by Bloomberg on Wednesday morning.

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

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