Cameroon media mourn journalist killed by armed separatists

Tuesday May 09 2023
Anye Nde Nsoh

Cameroonian journalist Anye Nde Nsoh who was shot dead by armed separatists in the northwest region of the country. PHOTO | COURTESY


Cameroon’s media industry is mourning the brutal killing of a journalist by an armed separatist group in the restive Anglophone region of the country on Sunday evening, four days after media workers in the country commemorated World Press Freedom Day.

Anye Nde Nsoh, 26, who worked for weekly newspaper The Advocate and Pan-African sports website, was shot dead in Bamenda in northwest Cameroon, an English-speaking region of the country plagued by a bloody separatists armed conflict.

Mistaken identity

In a video released on Monday by separatist leader Capo Daniel who commands the Ambazonia Dark Forces -- one of the factions active in the region -- the group admitted that the journalist was killed in “a case of mistaken identity”.

“Anye was killed in a mistaken identity situation,” Capo stated, explaining that they had targeted a military commander who frequented the leisure spot.

“Anye was moonlighting as hype man (a hobby) at a pub near his house when the armed separatists came in and ordered all the dwellers out, at the time he had stepped out to get a pair of batteries for his microphone,” the Cameroon Association of English-speaking Journalists (Camasej) to which he belonged said in a statement.


“Returning to the bar, Anye bumped into one of the gunmen who opened fire and shot him in the chest. The microphone was found close to his body,” Camasej said, citing a witness.

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In his video, Capo said he had spoken to his unit that carried the operation and that the fighter who pulled the trigger regrets the incident.

A shock to his employer

Anye's brutal killing came as a shock to his employer Tarhyang Enowbikah Tabe, whom he had been working with three hours earlier in a virtual newsroom.

“Anye left the online editing room at about 6pm after we finished editing his stories and I only saw on social media about 9pm that he has been killed. It is a big loss,” said Tabe who is publisher and editor-in-chief of The Advocate newspaper.

He said Anye was a passionate reporter “full of zeal” to learn more.

“He was task-oriented and loved sports as well as cultural reporting. He would not hurt a fly in his articles, at least the ones I edited,” Tabe said.

Many journalists in the country have taken to the social media since Monday morning to mourn their colleague with a mix of heartwarming tributes and anger over his killing.

“It's more of a dream to believe you're no more,” tweeted Brian Mboh Mbenowoh, a sports journalist in the country who describe Anye as his “brother, colleague and friend”.

Activists speak out

Rights activists have condemned the killing and are calling for a thorough investigation into the incident.

“We condemn the killing in strong terms and call for a thorough investigation to bring the perpetrators to book,” Camasej said in a statement signed by its president Jude Viban.

Read: Terrorism, suppression stifle African journalists' voices

The group also urged all journalists practicing in Cameroon, especially in the restive English-speaking regions, not to despair but to remain vigilant while doing their job without “fear or favour”.

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has also called on authorities in the country to thoroughly investigate the murder, hold those responsible to account and ensure that journalists can work safely in the conflict-hit region.

“Journalists in Cameroon’s Anglophone regions find themselves under attack by both the government and separatist fighters. Both sides must respect the rights of journalists to report freely and ensure their safety,” CPJ’s Africa Programme Coordinator Angela Quintal said in a statement.

The Cameroonian government has announced ongoing investigations to bring the culprits to book.

Anye is the latest victim of the fighting between determined and increasingly bold armed separatists and Cameroon army's Rapid Intervention Battalion in the English-speaking regions of the country that has claimed over 6,000 lives since 2017, with both military and armed groups being accused of atrocities.

He is also the third media worker killed in Cameroon this year – the two others being Martinez Zogo who was tortured and murdered in January, and Jean-Jacques Ola Bebe who was shot dead in February.