AFRICA/CAMEROON - A priest and several teachers wounded by Anglophone separatists

Thursday, 28 September 2023 armed groups   school   missionaries  

Yaoundé (Agenzia Fides) - A priest of the Missionary Society of St. Joseph of Mill Hill (MHM) was wounded in an attack on the parish of St. Martin of Tour in Kembong, in the diocese of Mamfe, in southwest Cameroon. According to the Mill Hill Missionaries, "On September 26, at about 11 a.m., six armed men on motorcycles (presumably from the Anglophone separatists, the so-called "Amba Boys") entered the compound of our parish in Kembong".
"Their first question was: Where are the teachers? When the teachers showed up, they asked everyone to sit down. Fr. Elvis Mbangsi was in the parish house. When he arrived, he was also asked to sit down. But before he could do so, he was shot in the leg. The rebels then also shot the teachers in the legs". Some people were hit multiple times, including Father Elvis. Since the Kembong District Hospital had been destroyed in previous separatist attacks, the injured were first treated at Manfe Hospital and then transferred to Bamenda General Hospital for more specialized treatment. All are in a stable condition and are out of danger. The attackers said they wanted to prevent the school from operating in the region. The attack came less than 24 hours after 10 district leaders were kidnapped by gunmen posing as separatists. These individuals were reportedly kidnapped for supporting the resumption of classes in the region. The kidnappers demanded a ransom of 50 million CFA francs (just over 76,000 euros) for their release. Since 2016, the two English-speaking regions of Cameroon, in the north-west and south-west, have been in the grip of a war of secession from the rest of the French-speaking country. The separatist groups, called "Amba boys", intend to form their own state, Ambazonia. They have imposed a school boycott to protest against the education system that penalize English speakers. Thousands of schools have been closed. Many were burned down and teachers left the English-speaking regions en masse.
The Church also pays the price as it continues to operate despite violence and threats and always seeks the path of dialogue with everyone, as the President of the Episcopal Conference of Cameroon, Archbishop Andrew Nkea Fuanya of Bamenda (capital of the Anglophone region), said in an interview with Fides (see Fides, 15/9/2023). "Despite the violence, I did not close any parishes and stayed local," he emphasized. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 28/9/2023)