Villagers in the western Cameroon city bordering Nigeria say armed men carried out several attacks from June 25 to 27, killing at least 30 people, including five Nigerians, and forcing hundreds to flee.
Community leaders in the city of Aquia say one of the two communities fighting over the land had hired separatist fighters to open fire, which the rebels deny.
Ano Daniel Kevong, the highest-ranking government health official in Ekwaya, spoke to VOA via a messaging application.
“Since the incident was so horrific, we didn’t have the guts to go to the field, so the injured were actually taken by relatives and villagers to the Presbyterian Health Center, where we treated them,” he said. “Most of those who were brought in had serious head injuries, chest injuries, while some had minor injuries. Due to severe injuries, we tried to stabilize them and refer them to neighboring Nigeria to continue care. done.”
Cameroon Presbyterian Church official Samuel Fonki said an unknown number of wounded died on their way to Nigeria.
The VOA could not independently verify whether anyone injured in the attack reached Nigerian hospitals.
Fonki said the ethnic Oliti accused the people of Mesaga Ekol of hiring rebel fighters to try to force them out of their land.
Separatists denied that they were responsible for Akwe’s killings and blamed unidentified armed groups operating across the border.
Fonki said he was trying to organize peace talks between communities to end the violence when the attacks broke out over the weekend.
“We were planning on how we can have peace talks to end this matter and then this unfortunate incident happened where 30 people including children, women, young girls, men and the elderly were killed in support of some armed men. Some were even burnt. In their homes,” he said. “We would like to request that the government should build a very strong military base in Akwaya because that area is also with Nigeria.”
Cameroon’s government said troops had been deployed to protect civilians in Akvaya, but gave no further details.
Inter-sectarian violence on the Nigerian border first broke out in April, when villagers say at least seven people were killed and plantations destroyed.
Local clerics, community leaders and village heads called a meeting to find a solution to the conflict, but the disputed parties refused to participate.
Accusations of insurgents having hired guns would likely complicate peace efforts.
English-speaking separatists in western Cameroon launched an armed rebellion in 2017 to break away from the country and its French-speaking majority.
The government blames them for most of the atrocities committed in the English-speaking western regions of Cameroon, while the rebels generally blame federal troops.
The United Nations says the conflict has killed more than 3,300 people and displaced more than 750,000.