Jan 12 (Reuters) – Gunfire rang out on Wednesday across the city of Buea in South West Cameroon, the home base for four soccer teams competing in this month’s Africa Cup of Nations, local news outlets reported.
Africa’s premier soccer tournament kicked off on Sunday amid security concerns, especially in western regions where a separatist insurgency has carried out deadly attacks on civilians and the army since 2017.
Mali, Gambia, Tunisia and Mauritania from Group F are all based in Buea, where many clashes between the army and the rebels have occurred.
Buea is about an hour’s drive from Limbe, a coastal city where two Group F games are being played on Wednesday.
Reuters was not able to independently verify if there was fighting in the city on Wednesday.
Militias from the minority English-speaking west have sought to form a breakaway state called Ambazonia since 2017 in protest against what they say is their marginalisation by the French-speaking government.
The conflict has killed at least 3,000 people and forced nearly one million to flee. The separatist and government forces have been accused of abuses against civilians.
Henry Kemende, a prominent local senator, was shot dead on Tuesday by unknown assailants in Bamenda, the capital of the neighbouring North West region.
Cho Ayaba, who leads the Ambazonian Defence Force (ADF), one of the main anglophone separatist groups, denied responsibility for the attack.
Buea and Bamenda experienced violent protests in October and November, after police officers shot and killed two young girls in separate incidents. (Reporting by Josiane Kouagheu Additional reporting by Edward McAllister Writing by Cooper Inveen)
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