By Nfor Hanson Nchanji
At least four patients have died, and others wounded following an arson attack on the Kumba District hospital, Meme Division, South West region, early Monday February 11, 2019, a hospital source has said. While the hospital is yet to state clearly who carried out the attack around 1am, the warring camps, Ambazonia activists and Cameroon military have accused one another for the act.
In a video taken few minutes after the attackers had left, a soldier is heard blaming the Separatist fighters for the act, “This is the hospital in flames…burnt by Ambazonia fighters since 1 am. The different defense units, the BIR, Gendarmes…were called up and the firefighting brigade to put out the flames,” Mimi Mefo Info quoted one of the security officers.
Meanwhile Ambazonia Separatists have said soldiers carried out the attack to tarnish the image of the fighters, in a video posted on his Facebook page, Mark Bareta, a prominent Activist condemned the act adding that hospitals should never be targets, “Places like Schools, Hospitals, Churches are protected…It is very sad that the Kumba district hospital was attacked. This action by Cameroon soldiers is callous, barbaric and we condemn it to the bottom of our hearts.” He said.
A witness who lives beside the hospital said, “I am not a politician nor an informant, but the hospital was burnt down by the “Amba”, (meaning separatist fighters) and while doing that, their reason is that the hospital gives money to the government. They were singing and saying they are burning down their source of revenue. It is pathetic how people die like Chickens.”
There have been several sources contacting CNA on the attack, one added that, “I am afraid it’s looking more like Amba than military. Even though we cannot exclude a military backed Amba sabotage. It seems the guys had been around the hospital since 8pm last night and some patients had identified them and had been talking. But by 1 a.m they started shooting and burning the hospital. In some cases, they sent patients out before burning and in other cases they just went along with the burning and let the patient run themselves. They also seem to have very sophisticated guns (not Dane guns) It was after they left that the BIR and then the Firefighting Brigade came”
CNA’s correspondent in Kumba earlier said, “It looks like military chased the fighters somewhere around and thought they entered the hospital. The burning is professional, because they targeted but sensitive parts of the hospital. Amba may rarely have that kind of technical knowledge. Some staff are saying that grenade was used but I cannot confirm this.”
Reports of suspected treatment of Ambazonia fighters in the hospital which provoked the arson, cannot be confirmed.
At least five vehicles parked outside the vicinity were set ablaze while Male and female Surgical rooms, General room, Nursing quarter were reduced to ashes.
Out of the 4 who died, 2 have been identified, while others are missing, “We don’t know whether they escaped or not” A hospital staff said. Several others have remained stranded.
There are reports that gunshots were heard in the area before the fire outbreak. More than 50% of health centers in North West and South West regions have been forced to shutdown because Soldiers have accused Doctors and Nurses of treating wounded Separatist fighters
The hospital administration has not reacted.