By G9ija

Cameroon’s separatist rebels on Sunday fired at a passenger jet operated by Cameroon Airlines as it approached Bamenda airport in the northwest of the country.

However, the scheduled flight from Douala landed safely with no casualties.

Cameroon Airlines in a statement confirming the attack said the plane has been grounded to assess the damage.

It said the aircraft was able to land smoothly despite the impact on its fuselage and commended the bravery of the captain.

The English-speaking west of Cameroon, Bamenda, has been a battleground since 2017 between the army and rebels seeking to form a breakaway state called Ambazonia.

Civilians have been caught up in the conflict from the start. More than 400 people have been killed and half a million have been forced to flee their homes.

However, Sunday’s incident appeared to mark an escalation in the danger they face travelling to and from the richly forested region.

What began as peaceful protests in the southwest, calling for greater powers for English speakers in the largely French-speaking country, have degenerated into violence.

Despite tentative efforts to sue for peace, fighting has continued, with both sides accused of atrocities, including the use of bombs and kidnappings by separatists and indiscriminate killings by the armed forces.