Fifteen soldiers and several civilians have died in two attacks in English-speaking western areas of Cameroon in the grip of a breakaway campaign, the defence ministry said.
Heavily armed “terrorists” ambushed a convoy of elite rapid intervention forces at Bamessing in the Northwest Region on September 16, the ministry statement said on Monday.
“Using IED (improvised explosive devices) and an anti-tank rocket launcher, the insurgents immobilised the vehicles [in the convoy] before opening heavy fire on the latter,” it added.
Another IED hit a military convoy at Kumbo, in the same region, on September 12.
The defence ministry noted “the existence of links and exchanges of sophisticated weaponry” between “secessionist terrorists” and “other terrorist entities operating beyond the borders”, including hardline groups.
The more-than-four-year-old Anglophone conflict in Cameron began when government forces used lethal force to put down peaceful rallies by lawyers and teachers protesting against perceived marginalisation by the country’s majority Francophone government.
In response, dozens of armed separatist groups formed to fight for an independent nation they called Ambazonia.
More than 700,000 people have fled their homes, according to the UN. Some 4,000 have been killed in the conflict.
In addition to separatists, rights groups have said that abuses have been committed by security forces.
Government forces have raided villages, burning homes and arbitrarily arresting and killing dozens of civilians, according to local and international NGOs.
In Bamenda, the capital of the Northwest region, armed groups have choked off the city by taking control of most of its main access roads, according to a recent UN report.