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Friday, November 2, 2018

The United States is putting pressure on Paul Biya

Cameroon on Wednesday accused the separatists of killing an American missionary, but Washington said its citizen was caught in the crossfire, and called for dialogue to end the conflict in that African country.

Charles Wesco, 44, was traveling with his wife, son and a driver in the troubled northwestern English region when militants attacked security forces and a university campus, said Defense Minister Joseph Beti Assomo.

In a statement read on army radio, Beti Assomo said that the American was ambushed by a "group of armed terrorists" in Bambili town and later died in a hospital in the capital. Bamenda, 14 km.

The minister said the security forces then sued the militants, killing four people and injuring others, including a soldier and a student.

These remarks come amidst statements by separatist supporters of social media in English-speaking regions - the site of an uprising by armed secessionists - that the Cameroonian army is behind the killing.

But in Washington, State Department spokesman Robert Palladino has not accused any of the parties and said Cameroon has promised the US a "thorough investigation" into Wesco's death.

"We have been in contact with senior security officials in the Cameroonian government and we think the victim was caught in the crossfire," Palladino told reporters.

Palladino urged both sides to begin "immediate and expanded dialogue without preconditions" to restore peace and resolve grievances.

"Separatist fighters and government security forces have used violence against innocent civilians," Palladino said.

"We call on both parties to consider the tragic death of this US citizen as an opportunity to put an immediate end to the violence and to allow unhindered access for humanitarian aid workers and health care providers in the regions. northwest and southwest, "he said.

Grievances of Anglophones

The English-speaking separatists argue that the French-language education system penalizes English-speaking students in this largely francophone Central African nation.

According to the International Crisis Group, the unrest has claimed the lives of more than 400 civilians and an indeterminate number of separatists.

On Thursday, gunmen killed a professor of linguistics in the same area.

University staff said the murder of this academic, also an administrative official, bore the mark of "Amba boys," separatists fighting for an independent English-speaking state called Ambazonia.

The government has so far refused to engage with English-speaking separatists, whom it calls "terrorists" and sent troops to the region to restore order.

More than 300,000 people have fled the violence, many to neighboring Nigeria.

The participation rate in the October presidential elections was very low in both English-speaking regions, although Paul Biya won more than two-thirds of the votes cast, according to official results.

Biya, 85, has been in power since 1982 and was re-elected for a seventh term with 71% of the vote nationally.