Douala (National Times)-The General Coordinator of the Anglophone General Conference (AGC), Elie Smith has observed that, the government of the United States (US) is increasingly worried about the involvement of members of the Rapid Intervention Battallion (BIR) of the Cameroon Army in the war in Anglophone Cameroon.
In a recent interview granted english biweekly newspaper, The Post, the journalist who is just coming back from a mission to the US where he met with politicians attested that the original mission of the BIR was to fight terrorism along Cameroon’s Northern and Eastern borders which were notorious for “coupeur des routes” and invasion by Central African rebels.
He said the BIR is trained by Israel and equipped by the US and according to the latter no element of the BIR was supposed to be in the North West and South West regions, rather they were supposed to be in the North fighting Boko Haram. According to him, the US government believes it is the withdrawal of members of the BIR from the North to Anglophone Cameroon which has ensured an upsurge in Boko Haram activities which have almost become daily.
Based on this and other human rights issues, Elie Smith announced that the US government and European Union (EU) partners are preparing a wide range of sanctions on the Cameroonian authorities whom they believe are blocking all routes towards a peaceful settlement of the dispute.
In a recent post on his tweeter account, Elie Smith said he has also received information that all the 2,600 recent graduates of the BIR from the Man O War Bay would be deployed entirely to the North West and South West regions so as to put out any resistance. This would be done through the proximity camps which would be opened in the days ahead, he said.
The BIR was created as an elite unit of the Cameroon military in 2001. It has its own command structure and logistics different from those of the regular army. It is trained by Israel, equipped by the US military and answerable directly to the Presidency. After unsuccessful missions by Gendarmes and Police against “coupeur des routes” in the North and incursions of Central African rebels, the BIR was created specifically to fight against these illegal activities of the invaders.
The first major outing of BIR out of its regular sphere was in 2008 when it was used by the regime to put out the nationwide strike action against constitutional modification given Biya lifelong presidency as well as other socio-political ills plaguing the nation.
The BIR was accused of gross human rights abuses especially in places like Douala and Bamenda. Government said about 40 persons were killed while NGOs claimed the figures were higher than 140.