JOHANNESBURG — A “horrifying” video circulating on social media shows Cameroon’s security forces shooting at least a dozen unarmed civilians during a counterterror operation in the Far North region, Amnesty International said Friday.
It follows another video in July that the rights group said showed Cameroonian forces shooting two women with small children strapped to their backs as suspected Boko Haram extremists.
The growing concerns about alleged abuses by a U.S. security ally pose a challenge to 85-year-old President Paul Biya, one of Africa’s longest-serving leaders, who is running for another term in October after taking office in 1982.
Cameroon’s government could not immediately be reached for comment but it has denied such killings by security forces in the past as they combat Boko Haram, whose fighters have spilled over the border from Nigeria and carried out bombings and other attacks.
The government also has promised investigations and defended the professionalism of its troops.
Its diplomats have sought to dismiss the earlier video, with Cameroon’s ambassador to Canada this week telling reporters in Washington: “You know what Photoshop can do.”
The latest video shows soldiers firing automatic weapons at people lying down and cowering against a wall while buildings burn in the background in the village of Achigaya. One soldier approaches, looks over the bodies and fires again at close range. Then the soldiers walk away.
Amnesty International said its analysis shows the video was apparently made by soldiers and was likely recorded before May 2016. The rights group said its analysis of weapons, dialogue and uniforms determined that the shooters were Cameroonian forces.
“Speaking in French, the soldiers describe themselves as carrying out a ‘kamikaze’ operation,” the rights group said.
It said the video backed up its July 2016 report that documented the killings of more than 30 people, including several elderly people, in the same village after a military operation that tried to recover the bodies of soldiers killed in Boko Haram.
By Associated Press