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Cablegate: Bakassi: 12 Dead in Latest Escalation of Violence

VZCZCXRO6171
OO RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHGI RUEHJO RUEHMA RUEHMR RUEHPA RUEHRN RUEHTRO
DE RUEHYD #0754 2071232
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 251232Z JUL 08
FM AMEMBASSY YAOUNDE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 9134
INFO RUEHZO/AFRICAN UNION COLLECTIVE PRIORITY 0180
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 0410
RHMFISS/HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE PRIORITY
RHMFISS/HQ USAFRICOM STUTTGART GE PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY

UNCLAS YAOUNDE 000754

SIPDIS

STATE ALSO FOR AF/C, AF/W AND AF/RSA
AFRICOM ALSO FOR POLAD YATES

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: CM EAID MOPS NI PBTS PGOV PHUM PREF PREL
SOCI, MASS
SUBJECT: BAKASSI: 12 DEAD IN LATEST ESCALATION OF VIOLENCE
IN RUN-UP TO AUGUST 14 HANDOVER

REF: (A) YAOUNDE 724 (B) YAOUNDE 687 (C) 07 YAOUNDE
1355

1. (SBU) In the early hours of July 24, an unidentified armed
group attacked a Cameroonian naval detachment at Kombo a
Junea in the Bakassi Peninsula, killing two Cameroonian
soldiers and wounding four. Later that same day, Cameroonian
Minister of Defense Remy Ze Meka released statement claiming
that ten assailants had been killed and eight captured along
with a "flying boat with two outboard engines, one heavy
12.7mm machine gun, two light 7.62mm machineguns, five AK47s
and one M16." In a statement to Reuters, Ebi Dari, a
self-identified spokesperson for the Niger Delta Defense and
Security Council (NDDSC) claimed responsibility for the
attacks and claimed that only four of their men had been
killed and two captured.

2. (SBU) This is the most recent in an escalating series of
attacks in the Bakassi region (reftels). In a July 19 attack
at Guidiguidi, according to the Government of Cameroon (GRC),
15 individuals in four speedboats attacked a Cameroonian
patrol. Three Cameroonian soldiers were injured and two of
the assailants were captured following a five-minute
firefight. On June 9, assailants attacked a convoy
transporting the Cameroonian Deputy Governor in the region;
nine Cameroonian soldiers and the deputy governor were
killed. In the first such incident, a surprise attack on
November 21 killed 21 Cameroonian soldiers (ref c). The
Niger Delta Defense and Security Council has claimed
responsibility for the attacks, citing their opposition to
transfer of Bakassi from Nigeria to Cameroon. The handover
is scheduled for August 14, in keeping with the Greentree
Accords, which implement a 2002 International Court of
Justice decision awarding Bakassi to Cameroon. The United
States is a witness to the Greentree Accords, which were
signed under UN auspices in 2006.

3. (SBU) Comment. The conflicting accounts illustrate the
tenuous nature of reports originating from Bakassi, but there
is no doubting the increased anxiety in Cameroon as attacks
against GRC forces escalate in the run-up to August 14.
According to GRC military contacts, President Biya's faith in
Cameroon's military has deteriorated to the point that, in
the wake of the July 19 attacks, he decided to form a Rapid
Intervention Battalion (BIR) dedicated to Bakassi. Existing
BIR units have been effective in combating armed banditry in
Cameroon's northern regions and stepped in to quell February
civil violence that had been exacerbated by the regular
military's mishandling of the situation. Post is reaching
out to GRC officials and other diplomatic missions to gain
more information about the threat in Bakassi and what
assistance the GRC will seek from foreign partners. End
comment.
GARVEY

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