Cameroon’s communication minister, Rene Emmanuel Sadi, has said only five people were killed in the Ngarbuh incident, and that members of the military are not guilty of killing civilians.
Speaking during a press briefing in Yaounde, February 18, he termed all previous media reports about the massacre as “unfounded stigmatisation and slander directed against the defence and security forces.”
The Ngarbuh incident has been blamed largely on government soldiers by locals and witnesses. Contrarily, the government’s spokesman said four children and one woman died in the incident. “The balance sheet of this incident indicate five deaths: one woman and four children,” said the Minister.
Minister Sadi, however, did not say what killed the “five” civilians who purportedly died, but said the burnt homes resulted from an explosion of fuel stored by separatists in a nearby “shelter”.
According to him, the security forces were attacked by separatists, in a clash that resulted in the killing of seven Ambazonian fighters.
“Elements of our defence forces were attacked by a group of heavily-armed individuals. The legal forces, consisting of six elite elements, responded vigorously and professionally, neutralising seven assailants…”
“During the clashes that took place, a fire broke out and a fortified shelter that contained explosives and inflammable materials stored by the armed rebels. This led to a blast, followed by fire that eventually spread and reached nearby dwelling,” he said.
Although the Minister has refuted all contrary reports about the incident, he, however, added that the government is investigating the Ngarbuh incident.
“In any event and on the very high instructions of the President of the republic, an investigation was immediately opened to further clarify all aspects of this incident,” he said.
Earlier on in an interview with The Post Newspaper, the spokesman of the Ministry of defence, Colonel Atonfack Guemo had claimed that at the time of the incident, no Cameroon military or security personnel were in Ngarbuh. “Cameroon’s Defence forces are not concerned. It is Ambazonia and secessionist terrorist propaganda” he had said.
Asked why all accusing fingers on the ground are pointed at the military, the Colonel said “They usually do it all the time. It is their propaganda. It is fake news. No army was there. No defence and security force was there.”
With the variations on the version of the incident by State officials, it is hard to tell whether it is the truth or not. The only point of convergence in outings of State officials after the incident has been that claiming that government forces did not carry out the attack.
On the ground, local sources have disagreed with the version that the deaths were as a result of crossfire between Amba fighters and government forces. They say it was a raid.
Also, the figures provided by the government, have failed to match with that provided by locals and the UN, as well as NGOs. While government officials claim that only five, the UN puts the figures at 23, while local sources claim that the death toll is above 35.