Clashes between herders and fishermen in northern Cameroon have killed at least 12 people this week in the area’s worst ethnic violence in recent memory, local officials say.
At least 12 people have died this week following clashes between herdsmen and fishermen among the Mousgoum ethnic group in Northern Cameroon.
In what local officials describe as the worst ethnic violence in the area in recent times, fighting which is rare between the two communities broke out on Tuesday, with native fishermen fighting off nomadic Arab Choa (Baggāra) herders in Logone-Birni in the Far North region.
Governor of the Far North, Midjiyawa Bakari, said on the state radio channel CTRV that “everything started from a banal incident.”
Members of the Mousgoum community created dams to divert water to help them catch fish, in a location where ethnic Arab Choa (Baggāra)herders also take their cattle for watering.
The ethnic clash is a disturbing development in northern Cameroon, where the military has for years, battled to banish militant groups like Boko Haram.
A district head Mahamat Bahar said the herders were enraged because their livestock were falling into holes in the ground dug by the fishers to lure their catch.
There are reports that many people have died but there are no exact figures.
Another local official, Cherif Mahamat said at least 12 people have been killed. Mahmat said “This is the biggest ethnic attack I have ever seen…right now, there are fires burning in other villages.”
In nearby countries like Mali and Niger, insurgents backed by al-Qaeda have exploited ethnic conflicts to recruit footsoldiers and undermine national security.
Bahar says one of the reasons the clash took this dimension is that the presence of Boko Haram and bandits in the area, led local residents to procure firearms for self-defence.
Bahar explained further that the agro-pastoral conflict between farmers and herders and fishers and herders has always existed, but had never been deadly as this one.
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