By Ngende Esther & Hope Nda
A group of unidentified gunmen has killed four students and a female French Language teacher after attacking Government Bilingual High School, GBHS, Ekondo-Titi, in Ndian Division of the Southwest Region, on Wednesday, November 24.
Reports say the gunmen also detonated explosives in classrooms when they attacked at about 7.40am.
Eyewitness reports say bullets from the hoodlums killed two male students and a female student on the spot. The teacher, who has been identified as Celestin Song Fien, was also shot in the classroom. She was rushed to the Baptist Health Centre Ekondo-Titi, where she later died.
“After the incident, we recorded four deaths, among them one female teacher and three students. We also recorded two major injuries which were referred to the Regional Hospital in Limbe,” the Divisional Officer for Ekondo-Titi, Timothe Abola, confirmed.
The fourth student died on Wednesday afternoon at the Limbe Regional Hospital, where one other student is said to be receiving treatment.
Pictures that were circulated on social media show a side of one of the classrooms blown off by an explosive device. These pictures carried the faces of three lifeless bodies of students in government school uniforms, and a woman believed to be the teacher.
Though we can’t independently confirm their identities, three of the students killed were identified as Emmanuel Orume, 12; Joyceline Iken, 16; and Emmanuel Kum, 17.
DO Timothe Abola said four students injured during the attack were being treated at health facilities in Ekondo-Titi, while two critical cases were being treated at the Limbe Regional Hospital. One of them, unfortunately, died later in the afternoon.
Eyewitnesses described it as a pitiful sight to behold as parents, students and sympathisers gathered in tears and confusion as to what happened. Pictures of a mother carrying her son in his pool of blood equally circulated on social media.
Unconfirmed reports state that, amid the commotion, some teachers and students were whisked into the bush by the attackers.
After touring the health facilities where the injured students were being treated, DO Timothe Abola said security has been beefed up around schools in the Subdivision, while defence and security forces are hunting the perpetrators.
“After the incident, we have deployed our security forces to the field and they are still working to see if they can get the authors of this barbaric act. I have taken some disposition, first of all, to provide the first care for the injured students, and we have also taken disposition to transfer the corpses to the mortuary of the Regional Hospital in Limbe,” he said.
Buea-based Centre for Human Rights and Democracy for Africa, CHRDA, termed the incident “unacceptable”, stating that Government should take all necessary measures, especially dialogue, to end the conflict in the English-speaking Regions of Cameroon.
“CHRDA strongly condemns this attack on school children and teachers and calls on the Cameroonian government to:
“Thoroughly, impartially and effectively investigate the incident and bring the culprits to justice
“Take all necessary measures to put an end to the Anglophone Crisis by a truthful and inclusive dialogue. Provide reparation, rehabilitation and guarantees to the families of the victims,” the rights NGO stated in a release on Wednesday.
The attack on GBHS Ekondo-Titi comes exactly one year and a month since seven school children were killed in Kumba, when gunmen attacked Mother Francisca International Bilingual Academy on October 24, 2020.
The Njenku locality where GBHS Ekondo-Titi is located is the same locality where former Paramount Ruler of the Balondos, Chief Esoh Itoh, was pulled out of a Church building on a Sunday morning and brutally killed by gunmen.
Recently, over five delegates of different Government services were kidnapped while on a mission within Ekondo-Titi Subdivision. One died in captivity and the others’ whereabouts are yet unknown, as the Government has remained mute about the incident.
The Ekondo-Titi incident adds to a series of bloody attacks that have resurfaced against civilians in the English-speaking Regions of Cameroon lately.
The most recent of these attacks was the shooting of two traditional dancers in Buea by Gendarmerie officers, which followed the killing of a taxi driver by suspected Separatist fighters.
Before the aforementioned incidents, a police officer had gunned down a seven-year-old pupil in the Northwest regional capital, Bamenda, an incident that happened after a gendarme officer shot and killed a six-year-old pupil in the Southwest regional capital, Buea, on October 14.
So far, no one has claimed responsibility of the attack. Though most accusing fingers are pointed at Separatists fighters, their surrogates and activities are in turn pointing accusing fingers at Government forces.