Nkambe: One killed, dozens injured in Youth Day blast

By NewsWatch Staff Writer

At least one person died and dozens others injured following the explosion of an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) in Nkambe, headquarters of the Donga Mantung Division of the restive North West region on Sunday February 11, sources said.

The blast at the Nkambe grandstand occurred as thousands of students and pupils were taking part in activities marking this year’s National Youth Day that has been celebrated in the country every February 11 since 1966.

A witness told NewsWatch that the IED exploded at the extreme left of the grandstand where some hawkers erected makeshift tents and were selling mainly foodstuff.
The source explained they heard a loud sound at the area. “Then people started running disorderly,” the source said adding that most of those affected were students.

A video later surfaced on the social media with rescuers carrying victims on stretchers from the scene, to the Nkambe Regional Hospital Annex, some with severe injuries.

“The death toll could increase. It is a disturbing situation but our brave soldiers have beefed up security to track down the terrorists who committed this abominable act,” Xinhua News Agency quoted an unnamed security source commenting on the incident.

Gory images of the victims undergoing treatment at the Nkambe Regional Hospital Annex have since been circulating on the social media alongside a list of over 50 names said to be victims admitted at the medical facility after the unfortunate incident.

Officials declined commenting at the time of this report, but Dr Moye Divine Justice Banye, Director of the hospital had in a letter Sunday evening, condemned what he termed “unethical publication of images of the patients” on the social media.

Welcome to Nkambe town

Without details about number of victims and severity of injuries, he said in the letter that adequate measures were being taken to provide quality care to all victims free of charge.

On National Youth Day, which is a public holiday in the country, school children from the primary to the tertiary sector, youth groups, and youth wings of legalized political parties take part in parades, folklore dances, singing and sporting activities.

No group had claimed responsibility for the blast at the time of this report but separatists pushing for the separation of the Anglophone regions from the majority French-speaking country had imposed a three-day lockdown in the regions to disrupt the celebrations.

Gunmen have been battling government troops in the North West and South West regions in their push for the creation of an independent state which they want called Ambazonia – made up of the two English-speaking regions since 2017.

Since the start of 2021, there has been a marked increase in the unlawful use of IEDs by non-state armed groups and rogue individuals, killing defense and security forces and civilians alike, according to the Center for Human Rights and Democracy in Africa (CHRDA) based in Buea.

It is the first time though that such has happened in Nkambe, which has been described as bastion of peace due to its relative calmness amid growing violence in the regions.

First published in NewsWatch newspaper No 169 of Tuesday February 13, 2024.

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