By G9ija

FILE - Soldiers patrol in the northwest English-speaking region of Cameroon, Nov. 15, 2017. Two rebel attacks in the area in September 2021 left soldiers and civilians dead.

About 15 soldiers and several civilians have died in two attacks in English-speaking western areas of Cameroon in the grip of a breakaway campaign, the Defense Ministry said Monday.

Heavily armed “terrorists” ambushed a convoy of elite rapid intervention forces at Bamessing in the Northwest region on September 16, the ministry statement said.

“Using IED (improvised explosive devices) and an anti-tank rocket launcher, the insurgents immobilized the vehicles (in the convoy) before opening heavy fire on the latter,” it added.

Another IED hit a military convoy at Kumbo in the same region on September 12.

The ministry estimated the total death toll at “about 15 soldiers and several civilians.”

Western Cameroon is in the grip of a four-year conflict triggered by militants demanding independence for two predominantly English-speaking regions in the francophone-majority state.

More than 3,500 people have been killed and over 700,000 have fled their homes.

Rights groups say abuses have been committed by both separatists and the armed forces.

The Defense Ministry noted “the existence of links and exchanges of sophisticated weaponry” between “secessionist terrorists” and “other terrorist entities operating beyond the borders,” including fundamentalist groups.