Cameroon:Over 30 Arrested Following Tear Gas Vs. Stone War

Over 30 persons were, January 16, arrested in Limbe by security forces following the sit-in strike action called by the Cameroon Anglophone Civil Society Consortium.

The arrests were made after the strike action that began peacefully in the morning, but later degenerated into a virulent war of teargas by the gendarmes and the police against a stone-throwing mob made up of youths.

The Consortium, in their strike call, had urged all pupils, students and other denizens of the Northwest and Southwest Regions to stay in-doors. Businesspersons were also requested to shut down their premises; cab drivers to ground their vehicles and bikers to stay off the road for two days.

In the early hours of Monday morning, taxis were all grounded – not even a single yellow cab could be seen anywhere.

Students stayed away from school, except for the Francophone students who have, since the strike began, been going to school.

At about 8.00am, at the centre of the town (Half Mile), some youths started gathering and looked visibly unhappy with the fact that every other group of persons had heeded the strike call, except for the motorbike riders. The ‘bendskins’, as they are commonly called, were going on with their business unperturbed.

The youths mustered courage and started stopping bikers with passengers. The crowd of youths soon swelled up, the police arrived at the scene, but did not stop the angry youths.

The youths then gathered steam, stormed the New Market and dispersed everybody who was selling. From the New Market, they moved up to the Espoir College Complex at Mile Two, a Francophone private college, where students and teachers were all in class, and sent the teachers and the students running for their lives.

It was at this juncture that the police waded in. Rounds of teargas exploded and the youths went helter-skelter.

Some two who tried to scale the fence were arrested. The other youths, now, descended back to town at Mile One.

There were some ENEO poles by the road. The youths pulled all the poles to the road, mounted barricades and armed themselves with stones in wait.

An anti-riot squad of gendarmes soon arrived, armed with tear gas and guns. As they charged against the youths, teargas exploded and a volley of stones came flying against the teargas throwing officers.

The gendarmes stepped up gear, again, and responded by firing in the air. Following the incident, The Post gathered from some security officers that 30 to 40 youths were arrested.

But officers at the Limbe Central Police Station and the Gendarmerie were reticent to confirm the figures. One officer, however, said the gendarmes arrested 14. Another source had earlier talked of some other 14 arrests that were made plus 12 others.

While at the Gendarmerie, a relation of one of those who were arrested, 31-year-old Wildred Mbongkiyung, said Mbongkiyung had just gone out to buy communication airtime for his phone when gendarmes swooped on him.

The Post gathered that the arrest and detention of the youths were ordered by the SDO of Fako, Zang III.



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