“Today is the darkest and saddest day in Kumba since the socio-political crisis in the North West and South West, which began in 2016 and led to the war”, said His Exc. Mgr. Agapitus Nfon, Bishop of Kumba, in the south-west of Cameroon, who denounced the killing of at least 6 students aged between 9 and 12, reported Fides News Agency.
The massacre was committed on Saturday 24 October at the college of Madre Francisca International Bilingual Academy, when around 11.30 am a group of unidentified attackers broke into the college courtyard before opening fire on the students who were in class.
“What was their fault? Is it to study?” the Bishop asks himself. “How long will the competent authorities look the other way? Will our children have to die again before they take action?”
“Because of this barbaric act, the people of Kumba are in tears and the whole diocese is in mourning, our hearts are broken because our innocent children are no longer there”, says the Bishop, who calls on the Cameroonian government and the international community to end the killings of civilians in the English-speaking part of Cameroon. Archbishop Agapitus Nfon announced that the funeral of the victims will be held on October 30 in the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart of Kumba. No group has so far claimed responsibility for the killings, but the government and the region’s separatists are accusing each other.
The attack on the school has been condemned across the country and the hashtag #EndAnglophoneCrisis is intended to raise awareness on social media. The inhabitants of Kumba organized a protest march across the city to show solidarity with the victims of the attack. For its part, the government condemned the killings, saying it was “shocked and deeply outraged” and promised to identify the perpetrators.
In the two English-speaking provinces, the conflict has been ongoing since 2016, when President Paul Biya proclaimed that he wanted to move French-speaking teachers to English-speaking schools. This measure was the spark that led to a very violent clash between the authorities and the militias fighting for the independence of the English-speaking provinces.