Yaoundé (National Times)-The Government of Cameroon through Minister of Defence, Joseph Beti Assomo, has reacted to the burning down of houses in Bamenda on Thursday, arguing that the structures were consumed following confusion between the military and the population.
He accused the population of sympathising with the Ambazonia fighters.
In a press release dated Thursday, May 16, Minister Beti Assomo said that the burning of houses resulted from the death of two soldiers along the Bamenda-Bafut Road and when their colleagues intervened to “cleanse” the area they were confronted by Ambazonia soldiers.
After exchange of fire, the Minister explained that the Ambazonia fighters took to their heels and when the soldiers attempted to chase them they were met by an “unidentified and violent crowd.”
According to Assomo, in the midst of this confusion, many properties were destroyed and houses burned.
He announced that investigations have been opened and the culprits would face justice. He also reminded the population that the military remains professional and always acting in the defence of the population and goods.
The Minister carefully chose his words to ensure that blames are not apportioned to the military which the population claimed masterminded the burning.
Beti Assomo version is in sharp contrast with that of the victims on the ground, who claimed that soldiers stormed the area when Ambazonia fighters were already gone.
They said the soldiers opened fire indiscriminately causing them to run into the bushes. In the process, soldiers destroyed properties, burned down houses, a church and health centre.
Many of such investigations have been announced by Government officials, especially in the course of the Ambazonia war, but nothing is heard after the announcement.
In a chat with a civil society leader in Bamenda, this reporter was informed that some months ago, soldiers raped a young girl after which Government promised to investigate.
However, the girl and her Lawyer were confronted by a senior military officer within the military who ceased the medical report and promised to kill them if they agitate.