One hundred and sixty-three prisoners incarcerated at the Ndop central prison in the restive English-speaking North-West region of Cameroon have escaped following an attack by secessionist militias on Saturday, the public broadcaster CRTV reports.According to the prefect of Ngoketunjia department, William Benedict Emvoutu Mbita, assailants estimated to number more than one 50 firing indiscriminately brought down the prison gates before setting all the buildings ablaze.
During the attack, 163 inmates escaped despite the deployment of reinforcements.
“We immediately mobilized more security forces including gendarmes and soldiers. But taking advantage of the darkness, the inmates managed to escape,” the administrative authority said.
According to the latest news, all those who escaped are still at large, many of them likely to have melted into the local populations.
The authorities have asked the latter to collaborate with them by giving information that can help them round up the runaway fugitives.
According to different witnesses, the buildings were burnt to the ground after “the assailants doused fuel around the prison buildings before setting it alight.”
This is the first time since the outbreak of the Anglophone crisis in late 2016 that such a large number of prisoners had managed to escape following a raid at a prison.
The English-speaking regions of the North-West and South-West have been blighted for two years, as supporters of secession of the territory that represents 20 percent of the population of Cameroon launched an armed struggle for independence.
The secessionists called the territory the Republic of Ambazonia.