14 children among up to 22 dead in Cameroon massacre: UN

14 children among up to 22 dead in Cameroon massacre: UN
Aerial cityscape view to Yaounde, capital of Cameroon. (Shutterstock)
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Updated 17 February 2020

14 children among up to 22 dead in Cameroon massacre: UN

14 children among up to 22 dead in Cameroon massacre: UN
  • The attack was carried out on Friday in the village of Ntumbo in the northwest region
  • Separatists in the regions have been fighting the central government for three years

LIBREVILLE, Gabon: A massacre in an anglophone region of Cameroon left up to 22 villagers dead including 14 children, the UN said Sunday, with an opposition party blaming the killings on the army.
Armed men carried out the bloodshed on Friday in the village of Ntumbo in the Northwest region, James Nunan, a local official of humanitarian coordination agency OCHA, told AFP.
“Up to 22 civilians were killed, including a pregnant woman and several children,” Nunan said, adding that 14 children — including nine under age five — were among the dead.
Eleven of the children were girls, said Nunan, head of OCHA’s office for the Northwest and Southwest regions, which are home to the West African country’s large English-speaking minority.
Separatists in the regions have been fighting the central government for three years.
The Movement for the Rebirth of Cameroon, one of the country’s two main opposition parties, issued a statement saying: “The dictatorial regime (and) the supreme head of the security and defense forces are chiefly responsible for these crimes.”
A key figure in the separatist movement, lawyer Agbor Mballa, in a Facebook post also accused “state defense forces” of carrying out the killings.
An army official contacted by AFP early Sunday denied the allegations, saying simply: “False.” No other official response was immediately available.
The three-year conflict between anglophone forces seeking to break away from French-speaking Cameroon has claimed more than 3,000 lives and forced more than 700,000 people to flee their homes.
Friday’s killings followed elections on February 9 that were marred by violence in the regions blamed both on separatists and security forces.
Armed separatists prevented people from voting, threatening reprisals, while government soldiers were a heavy presence.
Separatists kidnapped more than 100 people and torched property in the run-up to the elections, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said on Wednesday.
The government has not yet announced the results of the elections or turnout figures.

 

 


Afghan government, Taliban announce breakthrough deal to press on with peace talks

Updated 27 min 58 sec ago

Afghan government, Taliban announce breakthrough deal to press on with peace talks

Afghan government, Taliban announce breakthrough deal to press on with peace talks
  • The agreement lays out the way forward for further discussion
  • Taliban insurgents have refused to agree to a cease-fire during the preliminary stages of talks

KABUL: Afghan government and Taliban representatives said on Wednesday they had reached a preliminary deal to press on with peace talks, their first written agreement in 19 years of war.
The agreement lays out the way forward for further discussion but is considered a breakthrough because it will allow negotiators to move on to more substantive issues, including talks on a cease-fire.
“The procedure including its preamble of the negotiation has been finalized and from now on, the negotiation will begin on the agenda,” Nader Nadery, a member of the Afghan government’s negotiating team, told Reuters.
The Taliban spokesman confirmed the same on Twitter.
The agreement comes after months of discussions in Doha, the capital of Qatar, in negotiations encouraged by the United States. In Afghanistan, the two sides are still at war, with Taliban attacks on government forces continuing unabated.
Taliban insurgents have refused to agree to a cease-fire during the preliminary stages of talks, despite calls from Western capitals and global bodies, saying that that would be taken up only when the way forward for talks was agreed upon.
UN envoy for Afghanistan Deborah Lyons welcomed the “positive development” on Twitter, adding that “this breakthrough should be a springboard to reach the peace wanted by all Afghans.”
Last month, an agreement reached between Taliban and government negotiators was held up at the last minute after the insurgents balked at the document’s preamble because it mentioned the Afghan government by name.
The Taliban refused to refer to the Afghan negotiating team as representatives of the Afghan government, as they contest the legitimacy of the administration led by President Ashraf Ghani.