• Mon. Oct 3rd, 2022

Mali ‘suspended training’ ahead of AFCON opener after two killed in shooting near base

ByJanice K. Merrill

Jan 12, 2022

Mali have been forced to halt their training schedule ahead of their first Africa Cup of Nations match following a tragedy near their base

Mali’s preparations for their Africa Cup of Nations opener have been thrown into chaos after armed fighters stormed a town near their training base in southwestern Cameroon .

Mali’s national team suspended training ahead of their opener against Tunisia in nearby Limbe on Wednesday afternoon, according to the Cameroon News Agency.

Gunfire between separatists and government forces in the central market in the city of Buea left two people dead and five others injured, according to reports.

There were security fears ahead of the tournament due to conflict in the west of the country between English-speaking locals and French-speaking government officials.

The tournament mascot, Mola the Lion, was forced to don a bulletproof vest and be escorted by armed soldiers when he visited the affected region to promote the competition.







The tournament mascot was forced to wear a bulletproof vest while promoting the competition in the affected region
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Army checkpoints have been set up in the city, often manned by armed soldiers who carry out security checks on all passing visitors.

The separatist group objected to the tournament being held in Cameroon and threatened to inflict violence in response.

The group has since taken responsibility for the attacks while local reports said: “Two civilians (men) were found dead in the central market of Buea following exchanges of fire between Ambazonia (which the separatists call the area) and government forces”.

A human rights defender who operates in the area of ​​the shooting told the Mail: “There was gunfire this morning around town.

“We also learned that there was an improvised explosive device on the market. [separatist] groups and security forces were fighting in the area.

“Non-state groups want to create the impression that nothing should happen in the South West region [of Cameroon during the Afcon].”

This is not the first act of violence that has marred the tournament’s opening rallies, just days ago Senator Harry Kemende was reportedly shot and killed in the nearby North West region.

The conflict stems from armed groups who want to form a breakaway state that is no longer under the current regime.

Dating back to 2016, it has so far claimed the lives of at least 3,000 people and forced just under a million people to flee their homes in fear.

The situation was relatively calm at first, but a tough government response only heightened tensions.

Despite incidents nearby, Mali’s clash with Morocco went as planned.

A number of Premier League stars were involved in the game, including Brighton’s Yves Bissouma and Southampton’s Moussa Djenepo for Mali and Manchester United and Arsenal youngsters Hannibal Mejbri and Omar Rekik.

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