THE UNTOLD STORY OF CHRISTMAS DAY KILLINGS ALONG THE BUEA KUMBA HIGHWAY
Ekona, a small locality along the Buea-Kumba Highway in the South West Region of Cameroon has since the escalation of the Anglophone Crisis been transformed into a battle ground between the military and pro-independence fighters.
Reports from the inhabitants and other human rights activists hold that the town has suffered the highest human casualties and destruction of properties in the conflict.
we learnt that over 120 lives have been lost between August and December 2018, with the highest human casualties recorded on Tuesday, December 25, 2018 (Christmas Day).
Undocumented statistics presented to this reporter by the inhabitants of Ekona on Sunday, December 30, 2018, indicate that over 27 civilians were killed and over 40 houses razed on December 25.
The act was allegedly committed by Cameroon’s security forces after they were attacked by Amba Fighters.
The reporter on a special assignment in the locality gathered from the denizens that staying with decay corpses at home has become a normal phenomenon among the people.
This reporter learnt that every family in Ekona has suffered either a human loss or property destruction in 2018.
This reporter was taken to four different homes to see decayed dead bodies that were killed and abandoned in their homes. Bullet holes were visible on the walls of these buildings. Used bullets canisters have become the new seawalls that inhabitants walk on in the street of Ekona.
Children between the ages of seven and 15 years ran towards this reporter begging for food and money. Some are roaming the streets looking tartar with torn clothes on them.
The pictures of these children quickly reminded this reporter of happenings in Syria and Yemen. If one is visiting Ekona for the first time, he or she is tempted to compare the town with that of Aleppo given the massive destruction in the Area.
Inhabitants Narrate Christmas Day Killings
The December 25, 2018 killings in Ekona are still very fresh in the minds of the people, but surprisingly, no media outlets in Cameroon have reported about it.
The National Times gathered that over 27 civilians were killed and over 42 houses destroyed.
According to Juan (not her real name)-the incident started as early as 5:00AM when most of the inhabitants were still in bed hoping to begin the Christmas festivities at dawn.
Our source said the killings were provoked by the pro-independence fighters who attacked a Military Camp in the area as early as 3:00 AM, killing four soldiers and wounding several others.
“The Amba Boys attacked the BIR Camp situated at Government Primary School, directly opposite the cemetery killing over four soldiers and many others were wounded. I was inside my home close to the BIR Camp and I heard the shooting. The shooting lasted for about 30 minutes then I heard the soldiers saying that four of them have been killed and some wounded. I am a Francophone and could easily understand what the soldiers were saying,” she recounted.
According to her, “after the shooting at 3:00 AM, I knew that the soldiers will vent out their anger on the population, I woke my children up and I told them to be alert for any eventuality. At exactly 5:00AM the soldiers started breaking into every home close to the camp, firing bullet at everything in human form. I immediately carried my last son then told the other two kids to hide under the bed. The soldiers break into my home saw me carrying my one year-old son. One of the soldiers was about to shoot me then I spoke in French “pardon ne tire pas”. We spoke for about two minutes in French then they left to my neighbour’s home. I suddenly heard a loud noise from my neighbour’s home.”
Juan further narrates “I stayed indoors till dawn then came out to find six dead bodies of my neighbour and her children. What a painful death. Opposite my home was another three dead bodies lying on the road. It shows they were dragged out of their homes and killed. The few persons left had gathered at the junction counting their loss. The bodies we counted that early morning were about 20 in numbers”.
“Down the other streets we saw smoke and fire coming out from a distance. We rushed to the scene only to see another seven dead bodies lying on the road and a whole quarter of over 40 houses reduced to ashes. I have seen the worst killings in my entire life. My family and I were spared because I spoke in French to the soldiers. I would have been dead by now, God save my life and that of my family to be able to tell the story of the Christmas Day killings in Ekona,” our source stated
Juan told the reporter that Ekona will never be the same even if the crisis is resolved.
“I want to be honest with you Mr Journalist, this Ekona will never be fine. The soldiers used chemicals to burn those houses. Even the air we breathe now in Ekona is different. I am leaving with my family today and never to return to this place again. You can take a walk into the streets and you will see dead bodies littered everywhere. The town stinks with flies everywhere.”
Another issue of concern that caught The attention was the destruction of properties on the streets of Ekona.
Taking a 10 minutes’ drive from Ekona town to Mile 29, precisely at the entrance of Supermont Company, this reporter spotted over 33 burnt vehicles with their remains along the road.
These burnt cars belong to citizens who are using the highway to Muyuka or Kumba. They are all victims of crossfire between the military and the Pro-independence fighters.
Of the burnt vehicles, four of them belong to Les Brasseries Du Cameroun; two belongs to Supermont Company, while the rest are private and Government cars.
The National Time also gathered that 2 military trucks have been burnt at Ekona but the wreckage was quickly removed by the soldiers to avoid been seen by civilians.
Many farmlands believed to be hosting the camps of the pro-independence fighters have been burnt to ashes with chemicals such that the farms cannot yield any fruits again.
With regards to houses destroyed, 60 percent of the wood houses along the road have been razed by fire and majority of the houses inside the town have also suffered similar destruction.
With the declaration of President Paul Biya on December 31, 2018, during his usual end of year that he will instruct soldiers to neutralise the pro-independence fighters if they fail to disarm themselves, many people in the area fear that the coming days will be bloody.