March 1997 incidents in the north-west province [CMR36066.E]

Various sources state that, in late March 1997, about 300-500 armed persons (Country Reports 1997, 1998 37; Xinhua 3 Apr. 1997) launched raids against different sites in the Cameroon's north-west province (ibid.; IRIN-WA 4 May 2000; AFP 29 Mar. 1997). According to a 29 March 1998 AFP article, the sites included the province's capital Bamenda, Jakiri which is 80 km from Bamenda, Mbengwi, Oku and Kumbo.

The raids, which were attributed to Southern Cameron's National Council (SCNC) members, left about ten persons dead while many others were arrested in connection with those incidents (A I June 1999; IRIN-WA 4 May 2000).

An Amnesty International report provides details of the 27 March 1997 incidents held in the north-west province:

In late March 1997, armed groups carried out a series of attacks in several towns in north-west Province. Ten people, including a gendarmerie commander and two other gendarmes, were killed.
Following these attacks, between two and three hundred people were arrested. Many were supporters of the Southern Cameroons National Council (SCNC), a movement advocating independence for Cameroon's two English-speaking provinces, north-west and south-west Provinces, or the affiliated Southern Cameroons Youth League. Others were supporters of the principal opposition political party, the Social Democratic Front.
Most were released during the following weeks, but more than 60 remained held. During 1998, 14 were released without charge.
Since March 1997 at least nine detainees among this group are reported to have died in custody as a result of torture or lack of medical care; the most recent death was that of Lawrence Fai on 31 August 1998. Fears remained for other critically ill prisoners, including Ndifet Zacharias Khan who had toes on both feet amputated as a result of beatings and Ebenezer Akwanga who reportedly suffered paralysis of his lower limbs and impaired vision as a result of torture (June 1999).

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum.


Agence France Presse (AFP). "Cameroun-politique: quatre morts dans les attaques attribuées à des independantistes anglophones." (NEXIS)

Amnesty International (AI). June 1999. Africa Update. A Summary of Human Rights Concerns in Sub-SaharanAfrica. September 1998-March 1999. (Report: AFR 01/02/99). [Accessed 26 Jan. 2001].

Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 1997. 1998. United States Department of State. Washington, DC: United States Government Printing Office.

United Nations, Integrated Regional Information Network (IRIN). 4 May 2000. "IRIN Update 709 of Events in West Africa: Cameroon: UN Secretary-General Stresses Dialogue." [Accessed: 25 Sept. 2000].

The Xinhua News Agency. 2 April 1997. "Cameroon: 500 Secessionists Raid Northwest Province." (NEXIS).