The Mali national football team has suspended training prior to their match against Tunisia in nearby Limbe this afternoon after Armed fighters stormed a town in southwest Cameroon close to the training base used by the Mali and Gambia teams at the Africa Cup of Nations.
According to the Cameroon News Agency, the Mali team suspended training because of the gun battle. Mali are due to play Tunisia in the opening game of Group F at the Afcon, this afternoon [Wednesday].
Two people are reported to have died following an exchange of gunfire between separatists and government forces at the central market in the town of Buea and five people have been injured.
There has been escalating conflict in the west of Cameroon between the local English-speaking population and the government of the largely French-speaking country.
Sportsmail reported last month how the tournament mascot, Mola the Lion, was forced to wear a bulletproof vest and was escorted by heavily armed soldiers when he visited the region to promote the competition.
Armoured vehicles and heavily manned army checkpoints have been prominent in the town in recent weeks, with security checks on entry points to nearby Limbe.
‘The Malian team has suspended training and left the Molyko stadium,’ the Cameroon News Agency, reported today.
Separatists, who have objected to hosting games in the west of the country – an area they call Ambazonia – have threatened violence. They have claimed responsibility for the attacks.
One of the host cities, Limbe, is within the westernregion and just 13 miles from Buea.
‘Two civilians (men) have been found dead at the Buea Central market following exchanges of gunshots between Ambazonia and government forces,’ the local news agency added.
Blaise Chamango, a human rights worker in Buea, for the organisation, Human is Right, told Sportsmail: ‘There were gun shots this morning around the town. We also got information there was an improvised explosive device at the market. The [separatist] groups and security forces were fighting in the area.
‘The non state groups want to create the impression that nothing should take place in the south west region [of Cameroon during the Afcon].’