Authorities in English-speaking western Cameroon called for calm after a police officer killed a student in the troubled region and was lynched by an angry mob.
The incident took place in Buea, a key city in a region where Anglophone separatists and government forces from the majority French nation have been embroiled in a bitter four-year conflict.
“We urge the public to remain calm. This is a sad and unfortunate incident, ”Southwest Region Governor Bernard Okalia Bilai told state television channel CRTV.
Blaise Chamango, head of a local campaign group called Human Is Right, said police ordered a woman who was driving children to school to stop at a checkpoint.
“The driver did not obey. A gendarme opened fire and a schoolgirl was fatally wounded, ”he said.
“People responded by lynching the gendarme. More than 500 people came out and marched with the body (of the girl) to the governor’s office. He tried to calm people down by promising to punish ”those responsible, he said.
Images that were supposedly those of the dead girl, the gendarme and the mafia circulated on social networks, but could not be authenticated.
The Southwest Region and the neighboring Northwest Region are home to English speakers who comprise about one-fifth of the 22 million inhabitants of Cameroon.
A decades-long campaign by militants to correct perceived discrimination at the hands of the French-speaking majority became a declaration of independence on October 1, 2017.
Attacks on security forces by armed separatists were met with repression, sending the two regions into a spiral of violence that has claimed more than 3,500 lives and forced some 700,000 people to flee their homes. .
Last month alone, 15 soldiers were killed in two attacks in five days, while four suspected separatists were sentenced to death for the murder of seven schoolchildren last year.
The presence of the Anglophone regions derives from the colonial era.
The former German possession of Cameroon was divided after the First World War between Great Britain and France.
In 1961, part of the British territory, southern Cameroon, was joined by Cameroon after gaining independence from France.
Anglophones have long been upset by the perception of inequality, especially in education and the law.