At least 24 civilians were killed in one of the bloodiest attacks in a nearly five-year-old conflict between armed militants and government forces in the breakaway region.

Clashes between militants and security forces have claimed more than 6,000 lives and displaced around a million people.
Clashes between militants and security forces have claimed more than 6,000 lives and displaced around a million people. (Getty Images)

Twenty-four civilians have been killed and around 60 wounded in an attack by separatist gunmen in a troubled anglophone region of Cameroon.

Separatists on Sunday attacked the village of Obonyi II in the Southwest Region near the border with Nigeria, mayor Ekwalle Martin said on Tuesday.

"The separatists wanted the inhabitants to pay them money each month, they refused, and that's why they (the gunmen) attacked," said Martin.

"The toll is 24 dead and at least 62 wounded," he said.

The toll is one of the bloodiest in a nearly five-year-old conflict pitching armed militants against government forces in the breakaway region.

The attack was confirmed by a local administrative official, speaking on condition of anonymity, who gave a death toll of at least 15 civilians.

"After the attack, some people fled into Nigeria and others into the forest," the source said.

The village, lying 560 kilometres northwest of the national capital Yaounde, "is hard to get to. Armed groups exploit this isolation in order to hand down the law," the source said.

READ MORE: Anglophone separatists kill five soldiers, four civilians in west Cameroon

Longstanding conflict

The Southwest Region and neighbouring Northwest Region are home to a large anglophone minority in the majority French-speaking country.

In 2017, anglophone resentment at perceived discrimination radicalised, snowballing into a breakaway movement that declared independence for the two regions.

Clashes between militants and security forces have claimed more than 6,000 lives and displaced around a million people, according to the International Crisis Group (ICG).

Separatists have targeted police, soldiers, officials and schools, which they deem to be symbols of the state, often carrying out kidnappings.

READ MORE: Can national dialogue bring peace to Cameroon’s Anglophone regions?

Source: AFP