A soldier was, on Wednesday, killed by separatist rebels in Buea, a city in South-West Cameroon hosting the Group F matches of the ongoing African Cup of Nations.
Group F consists of Mali, Gambia, Tunisia and Mauritania, all of which are based in Buea, where the army and rebels have often clashed.
Cho Ayaba, the rebel Ambazonia Defence Forces leader, said the soldier was killed by an improvised explosive device (IED) during an attack in which rebels exchanged gunfire with the army inside the city.
“Our forces launched an IED attack that killed one soldier. A sister force known as the Mountain Lions also engaged the military in an hour-long combat,” Ayaba said.
Ayaba said the aim was to disrupt preparations for two Group F matches on Wednesday in Limbe, a coastal town about an hour south of Buea.
The Africa Cup of Nations kicked off on Sunday amid security concerns, particularly in regions where a separatist insurgency called Ambazonian rebels has carried out deadly attacks against civilians and the military since 2017.
Group F’s first match, between Mali and Tunisia, was played on Wednesday, with Mali winning 1-0. The match between Gambia and Mauritania was also played.
Since 2017, militia groups from the minority English-speaking west have been fighting against what they say is their marginalization by the French-speaking government.
At least 3,000 people have been killed and nearly one million people have fled the conflict. The government and separatist forces have both been accused of abusing civilians.
Henry Kemende, a prominent local senator, was shot dead by unidentified gunmen on Tuesday in Bamenda, the capital of the neighbouring North West region, according to his party.
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