Cameroon’s military has dismissed as false a Human Rights Watch (HRW) report accusing its soldiers and separatist fighters of killing civilians in the ongoing conflict in the country’s Anglophone regions.
The report released on 27 July estimates that at least 285 civilians have been killed in about 190 incidents since January in the restive North-West and South-West regions.
The two English-speaking regions have been riven by violence since late 2016.
Protests in the regions were initially sparked by what residents say was discrimination in schools and courts by the majority Francophone population.
The protests however took a violent turn after the government attempted to suppress them. An armed separatist group has been fighting the army.
The HRW report further accuses the military of attacking health facilities in the North-West Region and arbitrarily arresting seven health workers in the South-West.
It also accuses separatists of killing at least six civilians, including a humanitarian worker and a teacher, since May 2020.
The Defence Ministry spokesperson Cyrille Serge Atonfack Guemo said HRW wanted to tarnish the country’s image.
“Once again, an attack comes from a so-called non-governmental organisation, which depends on foreign powers that has made it become the humanitarian Trojan horse… Always faithful to its logic of demolition of the image of Cameroon,” Mr Atonfack said in a statement.
The fighting, now in its fourth year, has left more than 3,000 people dead and over a million displaced, according to HRW.