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Bullets and bombs in the streets of Cameroon! Separatists vow to disrupt Africa’s biggest football tournament

Bullets and bombs in the streets of Cameroon! Separatists vow to disrupt Africa’s biggest football tournament

On the fourth day of the Africa Cup of Nations, which will be broadcast from Cameroon to 150 countries this month, the rebels made good on their threats, with about a dozen men firing Kalashnikovs in the air less than 400 meters from the Mali national team training grounds, Wednesday 12 January. The second 2022, to frighten the players who left the stadium, the security forces responded with an exchange of fire, killing a driver and a taxi passenger.

According to a report by the American newspaper, Washington Post, Saturday, January 15, on the same day, in the southwestern city of Buea, someone threw a homemade bomb from a taxi window, injuring three police officers, causing panic to the players on the Gambia team bus, which quickly returned for the hotel.

Separatists vow heroism

The efforts of the separatist groups, which promised to disrupt the African Cup of Nations, succeeded for a while. Their stated goal is: to remind the world of their grievances at the hands of the Cameroonian government.

But after hours of calm, Mali moved into Tunisia and won 1-0, diverting attention from their five-year-old conflict – often described as “forgotten or neglected”, despite the rebels’ vow to launch more attacks.

“We will continue to carry out anti-African Cup of Nations operations. We will maintain our dignity,” said separatist spokesman Kabu Daniel, in a YouTube video on Thursday, January 13, in which he claimed responsibility for the bullets and bombs.

An estimated 1 billion viewers are expected to watch the tournament, with matches running until February.

For their part, human rights groups have called for a “spherical ceasefire”, hoping to benefit from the spotlight on the tournament.

Public life is also threatened

The International Crisis Group wrote that “a truce of this kind may be a first step to rebuild trust and move forward in talks between the authorities and separatist leaders, after years of bloodshed.”

Twenty-four teams compete in the biennial tournament on six stadiums across Cameroon, and some are in towns such as Buea and Limbe – the English-speaking – where the rebels are pressing for the creation of their own country: Ambazonia.

While Ari Elvis Ntwe, a Cameroon expert at the International Crisis Group, said: “You won’t notice the footballing spirit in these stadiums. People who live here – and can’t leave – are afraid to have anything to do with the cup. We love football, but we prefer to stay alive.” life”.

“Do not put the lives of football fans at risk, believing that the most corrupt system in Africa will guarantee their safety,” said the separatists’ spokesman.

Controversial tournament

Cameroon was supposed to host the Africa Cup of Nations in 2019, but African football officials felt that Cameroon was not ready due to the turmoil and lack of infrastructure. And then Egypt intervened to host the tournament.

That is why Paul Biya’s government rushed to finish the stadiums – attracting criticism that the government should have focused more on ending the fighting. After a year of postponements due to the pandemic, the tournament finally kicked off on January 9 in the capital, Yaounde, amid tight security measures that included thousands of security forces.

While some European clubs have tried to prevent their African players from traveling to Cameroon, citing fears of violence and the Corona virus, which has sparked a great debate about the risks that athletes already face within the Europe wracked by Omicron.

different feelings

On opening day in Yaounde, Cameroon fans were captured by the cameras, cheering and applauding their country’s green, red and yellow colours.

“The momentum was great, I felt very proud, thousands of Cameroonians sang our national anthem,” said Diane Audrey Ngako, one of the fans in the stands.

Diane, 30, the chief executive of a creative agency, also made it clear that she lacked patriotism, resented the government for allowing the English-speaking crisis to escalate, and wished there weren’t soldiers all over the stadium.

Before concluding, she said, “Football is something that connects us all, and this is an opportune moment for the government to recognize what our English-speaking people want, understand how oppressed they feel in our country, and make a real bond with all Cameroonians.”

News from رياضة – عربي بوست —


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