Four anti-government protesters in one of the Central African nation’s Anglophone regions were shot dead by Cameroon police on Thursday after 4 weeks of sometime unruly demonstrations in the area, police sources said.
The demonstrators were marching during a meeting of the ruling Cameroon People’s Democratic Movement (RDPC) in Bamenda, a northwest city that is a long-established opposition stronghold when the police confronted them.
At first, the officers tried to disperse the protesters using tear gas. While the crowd is growing bigger, a Reuters reporter saw the police open fire on the crowd.
One police official said that some protesters were armed with stones and steel bars and that the officers had acted in self-defense. A police officer was wounded in the conflict, the official added.
Demonstrations first started in Bamenda early November when teachers and lawyers asked for improved working conditions in a nonconforming act of rebelliousness against President Paul Biya, ruler of Cameroon since 1982.
The officer, being not authorized to talk to reporters spoke on condition of anonymity, stated that some of their elements were surrounded by thugs who had come to kill. The police defended themselves, he further stated.
The police source said, “Four hostile targets were neutralized. It is possible there were more.”
Four deaths were confirmed by a second officer.
Brenda Kiven, a local journalist at the scene said the meeting of the ruling party was perceived by the demonstrators as a provocation.