Abandoned villages are looted, burnt

Amid strident but still to be heeded calls for immediate and all-encompassing dialogue to chart a way forward to resolving the now gangrenous showdown pitting Government against separatist Southern Cameroonians, the war President Biya declared against the latter has moved from mostly unreachable rebels to abandoned villages writhing under the pangs of looting, maiming and rape. The worst hit by what now appears as Government avowed quest to annihilate separatists and their kith are villages in the Southwest Region.
The most recent of such indulgence is last Sunday’s burning of houses in Mbalangi and Ediki along the Kumba/Buea highway. Reports bespeak wholesale burning of houses with no laid down criteria for the choices of affected buildings following a fierce gunfire exchange with suspected separatists. Elements of the Rapid Intervention Battalion, BIR, are allegedly swooped on the villages with mechanically aided incineration artefacts that were employed in setting houses ablaze.
This has led many to begin wondering what could be the correlation between a war declared on separatists and wholesale incineration of houses owned by innocent citizens who most likely would have fled for safety to other towns and villages.
Only a few days earlier, the destruction crusade was at Munyenge and Bafia in Muyuka hinterlands. The reckless abandon with which soldiers inflicted arson on the mostly wooden buildings that adorned the towns leaves no one in doubt that the war is against separatists to denizens of the land which they operate from.
While admitting that there was reason to attract military presence in the Muyuka and Ekona vicinities, owing to the gruesome murder of a soldier, the fact that soldiers are not known to have combed surrounding bushes to weed out suspected criminals in Ediki and Mbalangi lends credence to the much evoked thesis that Government intension is to run the affected territory into calamity.
Earlier on, the calamitous caravan wreaking havoc on villages in the Region had visited the same despicable feats on villages along the Kumba/Mamfe and Kumba/ Mbonge/ Ekondo Tiiti roads.
Surprisingly, the same Government that is cajoling chiefs and their subjects to return to abandoned villages is behind the now perceptible pogrom being wrought on the same people. With abandoned farmlands and burned houses, fear of possible famine and eventual decimation of the population of the Northwest and Southwest Regions is heightening by the day.
This apart, there are concordant reports of an accelerating rate of entry into Nigeria by Cameroonian refugees particularly, Taraba, Cross River, Akwa Ibom and Benue States. This is exclusive of the bloated number of internally displaced persons that is on a daily rise due to persistent atrocities by Government forces.
The excuse being bandied is that forces loyal to secessionists have been killing regular soldiers. Were this to be the case, would conventional insight not have caused the target for retribution to be the culprits instead of innocent villagers whose only crime is being resident in upheaval-prone villages?
From what has been panning out since the advent of the simmering conflagration between Government and Southern Cameroonians, there is every indication that there will be no letting up by Government. Many are inclined to believe that the much parroted dialogue is a farce being employed to douse blame from the international community that has already seen the callousness inherent in the regime’s approach to crisis management.
Even worse is the fact that in the face of all of this, there has been a conspiratorial silence from those who pass off for political elite in the two Regions. From newly elected and appointed senators to parliamentarians and mayors, the credo has been business as usual. Not even the Wirba and, more recently Senator Barrister Kemende display of courage seem to prod them.

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