Cameroon's military says last week it killed Lekeaka Oliver, who led the Red Dragon rebel group in Menji, a town near the border with Nigeria, along with his bodyguard. It says Oliver was wanted for working with rebel groups in neighboring Nigeria to kill civilians, commit beheadings and burn public buildings and schools.
Hundreds of people have watched the past few days as they paraded the corpse of separatist leader Lekeaka Oliver, according to the military.
Chamberlin Ntouou Ndong, the highest-ranking government official in Kumba’s Meme administrative unit, spoke to a crowd Sunday.
He says Cameroon’s government asked the military to display the corpse as a gruesome warning to Anglophone separatists fighting to carve out an independent state from Cameroon and its French-speaking majority.
"It is a testimony that all those who are not willing to surrender are going to face our forces of law and order. The head of state gave a word out to all who remain in the bushes to lay down their arms and join the remaining population in the development of this country," he said.
Ndong says the display aims deter Cameroonian youth from joining rebel groups.
Capo Daniel, the leader of the separatist Ambazonia Defense Forces who fight alongside the Red Dragons, says the parading of their leader’s corpse will not stop the rebels from fighting.
"Field marshal has been replaced by a younger and more vibrant leader," he said. "Our armed resistance against Cameroon rule will only intensify. Our forces have received instructions to carry out reprisal actions in response to the killing of [the] field marshal."
Ephraim Foreke, a teacher at a government school in Fontem in the Lebialem administrative near rebel camps, says Oliver’s death is a relief for civilians who lived in fear of the Red Dragons.
He said locals have started cleaning schools with the hope that children and teachers who fled the attacks will return.
"There are some people below who are clearing down to the Francophone section. All the doors were destroyed. Chairs that were there were all eaten by rats. Every place is like a graveyard. They ransacked the whole place," told Foreke VOA.
Cameroon’s government vowed the military will protect civilians and their property.
The U.N. says Cameroon's five-year separatist conflict has killed more than 3,300 people and displaced at least 750,000 internally and to neighboring Nigeria.