World, Africa

1 gendarme killed, school burned in northwest Cameroon

Violence occurs amid tension between minority English speakers and French speakers in central African state

1 gendarme killed, school burned in northwest Cameroon file photo

By Peter Kum and Felix Nkambeh Tih

YAOUNDE, Cameroon

A gendarme was killed late Monday in clashes between English-speaking activists and police in Cameroon's Northwest Region, an administrative source told Anadolu Agency.

"Constable Maj. Djodnia was killed in front of the Jakiri bilingual high school by masked men," said Adolphe Lele Lafrique, the region’s governor.

"We have been informed that there has been a confrontation between activists and the police," the governor said, adding that he had no information on the exact circumstances of the clashes.

Several activists protested across the region on Monday as President Paul Biya marked 35 years in power in the central African state.

"The Jakiri bilingual high school was burned down over the weekend, and we asked for a troop reinforcement to secure our region especially on this day, when demonstrations should take place to celebrate the 35 years of our president in power," Lafrique added.

Four educational institutions, including the high school, were burned last week by Anglophone activist who said that the schools should remain closed till the Anglophone crisis is resolved.

The English-speaking regions of Cameroon (Northwest and Southwest regions) have lived for almost a year in tension with strikes and demonstrations denouncing discrimination against the Anglophone minority in favor of the Francophone majority.

Violence left dozens of protesters dead and over 100 injured last month after tens of thousands of people began a peaceful march to proclaim the independence of Western Cameroon, also known as Ambazonia, according to the International Crisis Group.

French Cameroon gained its independence from France in 1960. In 1961, a federal state was set up when British Cameroon gained its independence from Great Britain and joined French Cameroon. The federal state was later dissolved in favor of a unitary state in 1972.

Since then, English-speaker say they are being marginalized, forced to use French in public institutions and schools and use the French-Cameroon legal system in courts.

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