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Cameroon Defence Minister Ambushed In Restive Region, Assailants Killed

A convoy transporting Cameroonian Defence Minister Joseph Beti Assomo was ambushed in the country’s restive anglophone region, leaving several attackers dead, state radio said on Friday.

Four soldiers and a reporter were also injured in Thursday’s attack, other sources said, while the journalist said the convoy was ambushed again just a short time later.

News of the brazen assault came as the country’s 85-year-old president Paul Biya who has ordered a crackdown in the troubled region declared Friday he would bid for a seventh consecutive term in office.

Journalist Gregoire Djarmaila, who writes for the state daily the Cameroon Tribune and was injured by flying glass, said the attack occurred as Beti Assomo was heading for a visit to a military position seven kilometers (about four miles) from the town of Kumba.

The convoy comprised about 30 vehicles, including an armour-plated vehicle that was carrying the minister and six generals, he said.

It encountered a roadblock about halfway along the route, “and our vehicles were riddled by gunfire, coming from houses that been abandoned because of the war,” Djarmaila said.

The military escort returned fire, enabling the convoy to reach the military post.

“But no sooner had we left the post than we were attacked again. This time, they looked more numerous and determined… (they fired) on all the vehicles in the convoy.”

Djarmaila said that “our good luck was that they were using home-made hunting guns” rather than military weapons, adding that he experienced “40 minutes of hell.”

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