West News Wire: 19 athletes were hurt after several small explosions occurred during a running competition in Cameroon’s English-speaking zone, a local physician told the Reuters news agency.
The explosions happened on Saturday in Buea, the Southwest region’s regional capital where rebels are at war with the government.
According to the doctor, the injured athletes were receiving treatment for blast injuries.
“We have received 19 injured athletes at our facilities. On three of them, we have performed surgery. The hospital’s director, Martin Mokake, told Reuters by phone that the patients’ status is stable and that no fatalities have been reported.
He stated that a citizen of Gabon was among those receiving treatment.
Local runners as well as competitors from France, East, Central, and Northern Africa made up the 529 race participants.
The armed wing of Ambazonia Governing Council, one of the separatist armed groups in the region, claimed responsibility for the blasts.
“Our primary target was the Cameroon elite forces that were providing security for the athletes. We will not allow Cameroon to continue its occupation,” the group’s spokesperson Capo Daniel told Reuters.
There was no immediate comment from the authorities in Buea.
One clip showed spectators cheering on a runner before dashing for cover when a small explosion goes off in the distance. Another showed a different explosion going off near a pack of runners elsewhere on the route.
The separatist rebellion began in Cameroon’s English-speaking Northwest and Southwest regions in 2016 when teachers and lawyers protested against their perceived marginalisation by the primarily French-speaking national government.
A violent crackdown by security forces turned the movement towards armed rebellion, and the ensuing conflict has killed more than 3,000 people and displaced nearly one million.