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Seven-year-old Pupil Killed by Stray Bullet Near Catholic School in Cameroon, Priest Says

St. Theresa of the Child Jesus Cathedral Kumbo. Credit: Courtesy Photo

A seven-year-old pupil at St. Theresa’s Catholic Primary School in Cameroon’s Kumbo Diocese has been killed by a stray bullet during a crossfire between Cameroonian military and militants near the learning institution, a Catholic Priest has told ACI Africa.

The girl, a primary three pupil, was in a classroom alongside others when she was hit by the stray bullet, Fr. Jude Tanlaka Burinyuy told ACI Africa Friday, August 20, adding that the girl identified as Sinclair Shaalanyuy died on the spot.

Two other pupils were “lightly injured” during the incident that took place “at about 11.18 a.m.,” Fr. Burinyuy who is the Manager of Evangelium Kumbo Radio said.

The pupils were eating from the classroom at the time, the Catholic Priest said, making reference to the testimony from a teacher at the school.

The Cameroon Armed Forces was deployed in the North Western part of the country to battle members of the Ambazonia separatist movement (Amba Boys) who have been operational since 2016 when the nation’s Anglophone regions, North West and the South West, plunged into conflict.

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Officials of the Catholic Charity and Peace organization, Denis Hurley Peace Institute (DHPI), that has been monitoring the conflict reported heavy shooting between the Cameroonian military and the Amba Boys in an exchange that has led to several deaths in August alone.

In an August 18 report shared with ACI Africa, DHPI officials reported that a heavy military invasion was witnessed in the morning hours of August 11 as the forces searched for a certain General Grandpa who is said to have led many attacks against the military forces in the region.

“In the course of the gunshots, the armed forces broke into homes demanding the whereabouts of General Grandpa under whose command the ARFs (Ambazonia Restoration Forces) have killed a good number of state forces and carted away tons of arms and ammunition,” officials of DHPI said.

In a report issued in May, DHPI leadership also reported that the military forces in Kumbo had been harassing residents.

Fr. Ngenge Godlove Bong-aba, former Parish Priest of St. Therese of the Child Jesus in Cameroon's Archdiocese of Bamenda who is now working with DHPI said that a number of innocent civilians had lost their lives in what is referred to as “operation clean up Kumbo.”

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The DHPI official noted that some of the residents had fled and were hiding in bushes while their houses were being looted by the military.

In February last year, the law enforcers invaded a village in Kumbo, leaving 24 civilians, including pregnant women and children, dead and hundreds displaced.