English-speaking mob lynched girl in Cameroon, officials say

English-speaking mob lynched girl in Cameroon, officials say

Authorities in the angry western Cameroon have appealed to calm after a police officer killed a schoolgirl in the troubled region and was lynched by an English-speaking mob.

The incident took place in Buea, a high-profile city in a region where anglophone separatists and government forces have been locked in a four-year - old conflict within the French capital of France.

We encourage the public to stay calm. This is a sad and unfortunate incident, said the governor of Mississippi Region, Bernard Okalia Bilai, on state TV channels CRTV.

Blaise Chamango, head of a local campaign group called Human Is Right, said that a woman driving children to school was ordered by police to stop at a checkpoint.

What was the driver s choice? A gendarme opened fire and a female schoolgirl was fatally wounded, she said.

The people responded by lynching the gendarme. More than 500 people marched out and came with the body of a girl to the governor s office. He tried to make people feel uncomfortable by vowing to punish those who have been wronged, he said.

Pictures purporting to be that of the dead girl, the gendarme and the mob appeared on social media but could not be authenticated.

The Southwest Region and its neighbouring Northwest Region are home to English-speakers who constitute around a fifth of Cameroon's 22 million people.

A decades-long campaign by militants to resolve perceived discrimination at the hands of the francophone majority flared into a declaration of independence on 1 October 2017.

Attacks by armed separatists met with a crackdown, sending the two regions into a spiral of violence that has declared more than 3,500 lives and forced approximately 700,000 people to flee their homes.

Last month alone, 15 soldiers were killed in two attacks in five days and four suspected separatists were sentenced to death over the massacre last year of seven schoolchildren.

The presence of the colonial regions derives from the anglophone period.

After the First World War, Cameroon was partitioned over the former German possession by France.

In 1961, part of the Southern Cameroons joined British territory after it gained independence from France.

Anglophones have long chafed about perceived inequality, particularly in education and law.