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Travellers, farmers caught in weekend military combat against separatists

Travellers, farmers and locals of Ediki and Mabonji  on the Kumba-Buea Road Highway in the South West Region of Cameroon experienced varying ordeals over the weekend  as security forces battled separatists off the road.

Kumba-Buea Highway road

In the early hours of Saturday, August 18, a military contingent stormed the zone between Mabonji and Ediki, battling suspected separatists fighters. Sustained gun battles resulted in a halt of traffic for hours.

Hundreds of vehicles to and from Kumba were stocked on different ends as the military squad battled the fighters into retreat. While reports have emerged of casualties following the weekend battles, most of those affected are said to be villagers who escaped into the bushes. Stray bullets are said to have wounded some.

Eduke Nadesh, victim of Saturday’s incident told The National Times that her father suffered from bullet wounds on his leg. Eduke explained that her father had left early around 5:30am headed for the farm and that as the father was returning from the farm around Ediki, he spotted uniform officers stationed at some strategic locations.

Alluding to her father’s narrations, Eduke stated that, “he attempted escaping into the bush when the separatists and soldiers started shooting indiscriminately.

So my father was wounded on his legs. We tried all we could that Saturday. Finally my sister hired a vehicle.. …we removed him from the bush in Ediki and he is undergoing treatment at the Buea Regional Hospital,” Eduke stated.

But for such incidents, the halt in traffic came on the instructions of security forces. They are said to have asked drivers to park their vehicles waiting for clearance before heading to their destinations. Few hours after the battles, traffic was restored on the said axis.

Accounts have been multiplying in recent months from travellers about unknown persons who surface hundreds of meters away from a police checkpoint after Mabonji, asking travellers to ‘support them’.

The spell of interruption on Saturday comes following a June 15 blockade on the Kumba-Buea Highway. Back then, gunmen mounted road blocks. It lasted for about 72 hours.  It took a prompt military intervention with heavy equipment to clear the road for traffic and supplies to resume.

A week after, administrative authorities instituted regular military patrols on the stretch to arrest such unforeseen threats from gunmen.

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