Yaounde, Cameroon - Authorities in Cameroon say anglophone rebels have attacked military posts near the country's port city of Douala, killing several people. The attack is the closest the separatist conflict has come to Douala since fighting broke out in 2017.
Officials in Cameroon say at least 15 heavily armed rebels attacked a military post Monday in Matouke, a farming village less than 40 kilometers west of Douala.
Officials say the separatists killed at least six people and wounded many others without giving a figure.
The government said it is yet to confirm the identities of victims but rebels and villagers said they killed five troops and a civilian.
Speaking via a messaging app, Samuel Dieudonne Ivaha Diboua, governor of Cameroon's Littoral region, which includes Matouke and Douala, said he visited the injured in a military hospital Monday night.
Diboua said both the military and civilians will not accept separatists extending attacks and disorder to Douala, an economic hub in central Africa. He said the military presence has been increased on the border between Cameroon's Littoral region and the English-speaking Southwest region, where the fighters came from. He said civilians have been mobilized to denounce suspected fighters in their towns and villages.
It's the first time rebels have attacked so close to Douala, a seaport of about four million people that supplies 80% of imported goods for the landlocked Central African Republic and Chad.
On several occasions, troops have reported suspected fighters in the city and made arrests.
Speaking via a messaging app, Francis Mbah, a clearing agent at the Douala seaport, said any attacks on the economic hub would impact all of Cameroon and central Africa.
'This attack close to the economic capital of Cameroon is a sign that the government still has a lot to do to reinforce security permanently," he said. "It is a bad signal given that there are many citizens, Cameroonian citizens, living in the economic capital. This is a call for the government to step in and say this crisis must be stopped.'
Cameroon's English-speaking separatists have been fighting since 2017 to carve out an independent state from the French-speaking majority nation.
The rebels have vowed to attack all military posts along the borders with Cameroon's Francophone regions.
The military says separatists have attacked their positions in the French-speaking West region at least 40 times since the conflict erupted.
The International Crisis Group estimates that six years of fighting has killed about 6,000 people and displaced more than half-a-million.