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Renewed arson feared across Konye, villagers flee

Renewed gun fire exchange between separatist fighters, and elements of Cameroon’s military is feared to have resulted in the burning of homes in Lobange, Konye, South West Region forcing villagers to flee.

At least a dozen houses are feared to have crumbled under fire early Saturday, 11 August following the gun battles. Families are said to have escaped into the bushes for fear of the unknown.

Houses burnt in Konye

Though no group has claimed responsibility for setting the homes ablaze, unverified videos showing houses on fire in a place said to be Lobange have been shared on different social media platforms.

In one of the videos, a man is overheard asking villagers to escape stating that, ‘attackers’ are coming back to continue their action.

Lobange is a purely farming community. It has a difficult access road leading to other villages such as Lobongi . Beyond these, are other localities and foot paths that link the area to Ndian Division.

It is not the first time that houses have suffered arson in the Sub Division since the social pressures erupted in the North West and South West Regions.

Even in the Sub Divisional headquarters of Konye, a few homes and a business center constructed with council funds worth FCFA 30million have suffered the same doom.

At the moment, a host of council staff are seeking refuge out of the municipality owing to growing insecurity. Konye’s first major attack came on February 11, 2017. Then, unidentified youths took former Divisional Officer, DO Hotison Mbotichi Babila and Mayor George Musima Lobe hostage at the communal grandstand.

Same day, a security squad stormed Konye and restored calm. Besides, these, Konye has witness other deadly attacks on security officers and other state functionaries.

Hundreds of villagers remain trapped in the bushes. Mayor Musima habours the fear that, those in the bushes may end up creating new villages if the crisis drags on.

Konye has projects worth 298million within the context of the 2018 public investment budget. On July 19 this year, the committee charged with evaluating the projects scored its execution at zero percent.

The attack brings to the three the number of traditional rulers in the South West who died under questionable circumstances since the current crisis. On January 12 this year around midnight, gunmen attacked and killed Chief Johannes Ekebe Niongo of Ngongo Bakundu. He was coordinating the wake keeping without corpse of Late Chief Manfred Tukwa of Kwa-Kwa Bakundu when doom struck. On Friday July 27, it was the demise of Chief Edwin Banda of Lysoka. He died in the captivity of gunmen under questionable circumstances.

©THE NATIONAL TIMES NEWS