By Josiane Kouagheu
DOUALA (Reuters) – A policeman has been arrested for killing an eight-year-old girl in the Cameroonian city of Bamenda on Friday, as he shot after a car that had escaped a checkpoint, the government said.
The girl’s death sparked violent protests on Friday afternoon in which at least two people were wounded, according to an official source who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Local reports said that security forces opened fire on the protesters, which Reuters was unable to verify. A soldier at the scene said security forces only fired shots into the air to disperse the crowd.
Bamenda is the capital of Cameroon’s Northwest region, one of two English-speaking regions where secessionist fighters angry about perceived marginalisation by the French-speaking majority have been battling government troops since 2017.
Last month, a military police officer shot dead a five-year-old girl at a checkpoint in the other English-speaking capital, Buea. Protests broke out and the officer was killed by a mob.
The eight-year-old girl was hit by a bullet that ricocheted as she was walking down the street, said a statement from the Delegate General for National Security, Martin Mbarga Nguele, adding that an investigation is under way.
Videos shared on social media, which Reuters was unable to verify, showed two men carrying a girl’s body through the streets, followed by an angry crowd. Other videos showed dozens of people who appeared to be running from machine gun fire.
Cameroon’s Anglophone regions were already gripped by tension due to the secessionist conflict, in which more than 3,000 people have been killed and nearly a million displaced, with both sides accused of committing atrocities.
(Reporting by Josiane Kouagheu in Douala; Writing by Nellie Peyton; Editing by Matthew Lewis)