ANKARA (AA) – Cameroon’s President Paul Biya has assigned a “commission of enquiry” to investigate reported killings of dozens of civilians this month in the country’s North West Region, a local website reported Friday.
The members of the commission were dispatched on Thursday to Ngarbuh–Ntubaw region where the killings were committed on Feb. 14. The country's armed forces are blamed for the killings.
The commission had already started its eight-day-lasting mission, the crtv local website said.
Within the given period, the commission’s members are expected to provide findings on the killings, according to the website.
At least 32 civilians were killed in Ngarbuh- Ntubaw, several sources said earlier this month, blaming the country's armed forces. The UN however said 23 civilians have been killed in the locality at the time.
Reacting to the accusations, Minister Delegate at the Presidency in charge of Defence, Joseph Beti Assomo issued a statement earlier this month, and refuted "these preposterous allegations and specifies."
Cameroon has been marred by protests since 2016, with residents in English-speaking regions saying they have been marginalized for decades by the central government and the French-speaking majority.
Protesters in the Central African nation are calling for a return to federalism or independence of English-speaking Cameroon.
"We are deeply concerned about reports of violence, including the 14 February attack on Ngarbuh village in the Northwest region that left 23 civilians dead, including 15 children,” UN officials said in a statement on Feb. 21.
The UN officials “deplored continued reports of attacks against civilians including extra-judicial killings, torture, arbitrary arrests and property destruction, as well as retaliatory attacks, abductions, rape and other forms of sexual violence, disproportionately affecting women and children in the south-west and north-west regions of Cameroon and forcing many to flee their homes,” read the UN statement.
As of December 2019, there were 679,000 displaced persons in Cameroon and 52,000 refugees in Nigeria who fled from the Anglophone regions, according to humanitarian organizations.
However, Cameroon's Minister of Territorial Administration Paul Atanga Nji denied the existence of a crisis and said in December 2019 that only 152,000 persons were displaced from the Anglophone regions, Amnesty International said in a report.
A national dialogue took place last year that focused on the grievances of the English-speaking population of the North West and South West regions of the Central African country.