A ship carrying undeclared armoured vehicles and other military equipment off the port of Sfax, which was bound for Cameroon, has been interrupted by Tunisian authorities, custom officials said on Friday.
According to officials, the said the vessel, which was flying the Panamanian flag, was carrying trucks, armoured personnel carriers and equipment for military camps. Also on board were “24 containers whose content was not declared, and which are suspected of containing weapons and ammunition”, a statement said.
Going by media reports the ship which was bound for Cameroon, is Russian.
It should be recalled that unrest has spread in Cameroon’s English-speaking regions since October as a secessionist movement has pushed for independence.
Tensions rose in December, when the national flag was torched at protests and a separatist version hoisted. Clashes in some areas left several people reported dead.
Prime Minister Philemon Yang, himself an anglophone, ruled out secession, stating that “Unity is the bedrock of our country.”
– ‘Secessionist declare Independence’
In January 2017 senior secessionist activists were arrested and charged with terrorism and rebellion.
New protests brought several cities to a standstill, but the government hit back by cutting off internet access to flashpoint areas for several weeks, alleging the spread of “fake news”.
In an apparent effort to calm the situation, President Paul Biya halted the secessionists’ trials in August and some were later freed.
In October, several thousand defied a ban on protests to mark the anniversary of the country’s October 1961 unification.
Separatist leaders issued a symbolic declaration of independence. “We are no longer slaves of Cameroon,” said Sisiku Ayuk Tabe, the self-declared “president” of a new republic called “Ambazonia”.
Biya, in power since 1982 and standing for reelection in 2018, branded the secessionists “a band of terrorists” and ordered a crackdown with curfews, raids and other restrictions. Dozens of people — members of the security forces as well as civilians — have died.