At least 6 school children have been killed and 13 others injured in Mother Francisca International Bilingual Academy, Kumba, Meme Division of the Southwest region of Cameroon. The unfortunate incident happened on Saturday October 24, 2020 at about 12 noon. Armed men believed to be Anglophone separatists fighters stormed the school with machetes and guns and opened fire on the helpless children, whose crime, we are told, is the quest to acquire knowledge.
Details revealed by Cameroon’s Minister of Communication, Rene Emmanuel Sadi revealed that 5 of the slain children are girls while 1 is a boy. The Minister also revealed that 7 out of the 13 injured are in a critical state.
In one of the many videos widely circulated online, three kids are seen lying in a pool of blood with bullet wounds on their bodies. Another one shows one of the victims shot in the head with the brain scattered on the floor and the face beyond recognition. Onlookers are also seen wailing in despair, cursing the perpetrators of the act.
The attack is one of the many attacks perpetrated on school children since the onset of the Anglophone crisis in Cameroon in 2016. Though the Cameroon Humanitarian News can not say with certainty who is responsible for this attack, accusing fingers has been pointed on separatists’ fighters, fighting for the “still to be recognized state”, they call Ambazonia. Officials have however blamed separatists for the attack. “They attacked around noon. They found the children in class and they opened fire on them,” Ali Anougou, an official from Kumba, told Reuters. Some children as a means of escaping the attack according to Reuters jumped through the window from the 2nd storey , sustaining injuries.
“Some fighters went to Fiango and attacked innocent students. Four were killed, and others seriously wounded. Let me seize this opportunity not only to condemn what has happened, but to tell them that we are going to do our best to shut them down. Let them run, we are behind them” the Senior Divisional Officer for Meme, Ntou’ou Ndon Chamberlin said.
Cameroon’s Minister of Communication on the reason why the attack was conducted with relative ease says Mother Francisca International Bilingual Academy had not legalized her existence and thus could not benefit from the security provided by the state.
The Kumba attack has attracted widespread condemnation from both the national and the international communities. In a series of tweets, the UN Humanitarian coordinator in Cameroon condemned the attack, terming it the worst atrocity since the resumption of school in Anglophone Cameroon. “The Humanitarian Coordinator in #Cameroon @mznaan strongly condemns the attack against Mother Francisca International Bilingual Academy in Kumba, in the Southwest Region of Cameroon in which it is reported that at least eight Children were killed and another twelve wounded”, one of the tweets reads.
The president of the Center for Human Right and Democracy in Africa, CHRDA, Agbor Balla on his part says the attack is a violation to the right to life of the victims. Hear him “I strongly condemn the killing of school Children at Mother Francisca International Bilingual Academy in Kumba. These gruesome and barbaric killings ara a gross violations of the right to life of these kids. It is unacceptable for anyone ot groups of persons to harass, attack and or kill children. It is a fundamental right for children to be educated. Hence the perpetrators of these heinous crimes should be held accountable…”-
The African Union Commission Chair Moussa Faki Mahamat in a tweet condemned the attack: “There are no words of grief nor condemnation strong enough to articulate my full horror at the brutal attack targeting primary schoolchildren … as they sat learning in their classroom.”
Families of victims speak out
Pastor Tangagwa, lost his only son, 10-year-old Victory during the attack. Speaking to Cameroon Radio and Television says he was shocked about the death of his only son. The man of God recalled almost in tears how long they waited (10years) to have Victory. He remembers nostalgically how his soon used to play the band in his church. Pastor Tangagwa wonders if the wounds of the dead of his soon will ever heal. His wife upon receiving the sad news went unconscious.
Amstrong Asopo, who identifies himself as a relative to Victory in a Facebook post regrets that Victory had to die in such an unfortunate circumstance. Hear him “My heart bleeds, they took the life of my 10-year-old nephew in Kumba today. A child who was just trying to get education, a brighter future-and they shot him, they shot him. They shot all those innocent kids for what??? Why??” . He recalls how her cousin, the Mother of late Victory mocked for not conceiving a child after 10 years of marriage.
The kumba killings bring back memories of the Ngarbuh massacre
One of the most disturbing incidents in the history of the Anglophone crisis is what is now referred to as the Ngarbuh massacre which took place on February 14th 2020, in the Northwest Region of Cameroon, precisely in the Donga Mantung Division, in the village of Ngarbuh.
The military, assisted by some local Fulani gunmen murdered over 13 civilians including pregnant women and children. This incident attracted condemnation worldwide as many people demanded justice for the victims of Ngarbuh Massacre. After investigations, the government held the military responsible for the brutal February 14 killings in Ngarbuh. The Kumba attack has only brought back memories of the Ngarbuh massacre that many a Cameroonian have struggled to come to terms with, or better still forget the bad memories.
Civilians, especially women and children continue to pay the ultimate price as the 4-year long conflict continue to escalate. The UNHCR says there are over 60.000 Anglophone Cameroonians living in Nigeria as refugees. About 3000 have lost their lives and some have sort for refuge in bushes, living under horrible conditions.