At least 50 homes in villages in Muyuka Sub-division, Fako Division, South West Region of Cameroon went up in flames on Sunday night as security forces stepped up pressure on separatists’ groups.
In the localities of Ikata, Mile 14 and Bafia the inhabitants who had mustard courage to occupy their homes scampered into the bushes. Villagers told The National Times that they watched helplessly as individuals dressed in military outfits set homes on fire.
The fire on homes is said to have preceded hours of gunfire exchange with gunmen presumed to be separatist elements.
A resident of Bafia village told The National Times that the suspected separatists after whom the military launched its operation escaped leaving the population to face the arson.
“As I am talking to you… at least 50 homes in Bafia alone are on fire…. Not to talk of cocoa stores and cosmetic stores that have equally been reduced to ashes…. We are back into the cocoa plantations…. We are hoping that things will return to normal for us to go back… but most of those whose houses have been burnt are feeling frustrated,” our respondent recounted on condition of anonymity.
Another inhabitant in one of the villages along the Muyuka-Munyenge axis averred that a special military operation went under way in most of the villages owing to separatists threats on the population.
“Those Amba Boys had gone round threatening villagers to contribute FCFA 5000 per home and FCFA 200,000 per cocoa store claiming they were preparing to go to Buea on October 1… am sure that is what might have triggered the security to raid these villages on September 30,” our source stated.
The National Times could not authenticate reports that the security forces looted foodstuffs and household items to their base in the neighbouring village of Munyenge.
In Most of the villages affected, soldiers are reported to have parked their vehicles from a distant and walk on foot into the affected localities.
Thousands of inhabitants in these farming localities pushed into the forests owing to the security threats have established make-shift structures in the bushes.
Most of them have moved their household items to the farms . Others have set up makeshift stores at strategic positions in the bushes to retail items to villages.
Sunday’s crackdown along the Muyuka-Munyenge axis is not unconnected to the scare of the October 1 Separatists’ threats.
They had announced protests in the name of independence anniversary across the North West and South West Regions.
On October 1, 2017, these villages flooded the road and headed to the Sub-divisional headquarters of Muyuka under the aegis of diaspora commands. Months after, casualties were recorded. Human and material damage from that outing remain visible in a village such as Munyenge which was reduced to ashes.
Later on, gangs of gunmen claiming to be separatists’ fighters surface causing untold harm on the local population. Till date, there is a complete breakdown of law and order along this once vibrant stretch of villages.