The introduction of exotic weapons in targeted attacks on Government Security Forces (GSF) by the Ambazonian Defense Forces (ADF) group in Cameroon is a game-changer that has left the playing ground uneven for the Cameroonian Armed Forces (CAF).
Following the repression of the 2016-2017 protests, a new agitation for the freedom of the Northwest and Southwest provinces known as the Anglophone region resurfaced. The stir birthed a series of attacks on the Cameroonian military by the guerilla southern Cameroon defenders known as ‘Ambaboys’. As a result, the State responded to this conflict by deploying armed men to the Southern Cameroons; a policy that has regrettably transformed the region into a war zone.
Over time, the separatists have carried out several attacks, mainly using locally made weapons and ambushes. In the same vein, security forces launched counter-insurgency operations and are often engaged in gunfights with the insurgents. Eventually, the Ambazonian warriors began to amass guns and explosives as booties of war from the corpses of their slain victims. They became powerful with each successful attack and gained sufficient momentum to occupy the Anglophone region.
In April 2021, an agreement was struck between the group and the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), although the alliance was reportedly denounced by both parties. However, there are speculations that the connection was not severed as border operations continued to foster a free flow of weapons. Between May and September 2021, there were more than fifteen (15) cases of attacks with Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), mainly targeting the military.
Things took a new turn following the RPG used in an attack on military convoys in Sagba, Ngo-ketunjia department of the North region on 16 September 2021, where more than 14 deaths were recorded. The recent display of high-grade ammunition by secessionist fighters has come as a shock to the government who now believe that there is an external body supplying these weapons.
In November 2021, the Fako department was rocked by a series of bomb explosions. In Molyko in Buea, a bomb went off in a vehicle resulting in one fatality. The attack was launched by separatist fighters as a punitive measure for non-adherence to the habitual lockdown imposed on Mondays. An amphitheater in the university of Buea was equally nuked by the separatists. In the Northwest, Bamenda recorded two cases of explosions on 12 November 2021, leaving at least six dead. An IED attack on GSF by separatist forces was logged at Ngoketunjia department of Northwest region.
The rate of these attacks and the weapons used are becoming a significant cause for worry. The concern however, is the effect of these new developments on Anglophone communities. Following the previous trend, the population will be at the mercy of attacks and restrictions on movements and business activities. Furthermore, security operations equally tend to cost the lives of the citizens as residents are often caught amidst gunfights, sporadic shootings and are often tortured to give up the hideouts of the separatists.
The era of the big guns and explosives is here, a period when the citizens look up again to the promise of safety the elected leaders made. One wonders what policies would be enacted to resolve this conflict, and what happens if these policies fail.