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Cameroon sees more vigilante groups against insecurity in Anglophone regions

Villagers hide out in the forest after a military attack on their community in the Mfumte area of Cameroon on April 7, 2019. Thousands have been displaced by the violence in Cameroon’s Anglophone regions over the past few years. Many have fled to neighboring Nigeria.

YAOUNDE, Oct. 15 Xinhua | Community defense forces, otherwise known as vigilante groups, are growing in Cameroon’s two English-speaking regions of Northwest and Southwest for crime crackdown, local authorities said Monday.

Growing kidnapping for ransom and armed robbery had prompted communities to form vigilante groups to track down the perpetrators, Benoît Emvoutu Mbita, prefect of Ngoketunjia, one of the worst-hit divisions in the Northwest region, told reporters.

“They are tired of the atrocities committed by separatists and have decided to defend themselves. We are asking all communities to form their own vigilante groups and collaborate with the military to make sure that these atrocities are stopped,” Mbita said during an event to support the vigilante groups in the Northwest region.

More than 30 vigilante groups have been formed in the regions since conflicts between government forces and armed separatists started in 2017, according to local authorities.

“These boys have tried their best in their various quarters. They are available to secure the population and their properties,” said Ndong Chamberlin Ntou’ou, prefect of Meme division of the Southwest region.

The Cameroonian government has provided financial and material support to the groups “to fight separatist atrocities.”

The government said the atrocities are committed by separatists who want to create an independent nation in the two Anglophone regions. However, separatists have denied the accusations and blamed the government for staging the crimes to tarnish their international image.

A national dialogue to end the separatist conflict was held in the country in early October, and recommended that a special status should be granted to the two regions.

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