Following a gun battle between government forces and pro-independence fighters in Buea, the capital of the restive Southern Cameroons, there was panic among players in Cameroon for the Africa Cup of Nations.

The gunfight took place before a match between Mali and Tunisia, according to reports.

Mali won 1-0 in a game that ended in a stalemate.

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The incident happened less than two miles from the Molyko Sports Complex, where the Malian national team was training on Wednesday, according to a Cameroonian blog called Timescape.

A Cameroonian gendarme officer was killed, and five others, including a lawyer, were injured.

Buea is the capital of Cameroon’s Southwest Region, which, along with the neighboring Northwest Region, is engulfed in violence sparked by the anglophone minority’s attempt to secede from the French-majority country.

Separatists declared a “Federal Republic of Ambazonia” in October 2017 after years of frustration with perceived discrimination.

In an interview with AFP, James Mouangue, the national human rights commission and a professor of public law, clarified that the part of the country hosting Nigeria is relatively safe.

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“Given the level of risk, the security measures put in place are exceptional, and there were no issues when we hosted the African Nations Championship in January 2021,” he said.

“I don’t think the jihadists will be able to disrupt the Cup unless they carry out a massive attack,” Guibai Gatama, editor of northern Cameroon’s leading twice-weekly publication, L’Oeil du Sahel, said (The Eye of the Sahel).

“In the north, the stadium where Group D (Egypt, Nigeria, Sudan, and Guinea Bissau) will play is in Garoua, which is far from their sphere of operation.”

Since October 2017, when militants declared an independent state in Cameroon’s northwest and southwest regions, home to the majority of the country’s anglophone minority, the country has been torn apart by violence.

In the fighting, which has killed over 3,000 people and forced over 700,000 people to flee their homes, both separatists and government forces have been accused of atrocities.

Armed groups are frequently accused of kidnapping, killing, or injuring civilians they claim are “collaborating” with Cameroonian authorities.

The unrecognized entity is based on the former British Southern Cameroons, who joined Cameroon after the French colony gained independence in 1960.

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Over 3,500 people have died, and over 700,000 have been forced to flee their homes. According to rights monitors, both sides have committed atrocities and abuses.

The government of Cameroon, on the other hand, assured players that “safety will be guaranteed” during the AFCON.

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