ACI Africa | A Catholic Priest was shot and severely injured when militants attacked St. Martin of Tour’s Kembong Parish of the Diocese of Mamfe, Southwest Cameroon.
Fr. Elvis Mbangsi sustained fractures when the militias, suspected to be separatist fighters in Cameroon, shot him in both legs and the left hand in the Tuesday, September 26 incident.
The shooting of the Cameroonian member of the Mill Hill Missionaries (MHM) is the second serious incident in the Cameroonian Catholic Parish where Fr. Cosmas Ombato Ondari, a newly ordained Kenyan Priest, served before he was brutally murdered.
Fr. Innocent Wefon Akum, who serves as the Society Representative of the MHM in Cameroon told ACI Africa that the September 26 incident happened at around midday in the school section of the Parish.
“At about 11 a.m. when the children were out for break, three bikes entered the school compound with six armed men,” Fr. Innocent said in the Wednesday, September 27 interview, adding that the men wanted the teachers at the school to come out at once.
Fr. Elvis who chose to come out as well is said to have been shot alongside the teachers.
“Their first question was where are the teachers? So, when the teachers came out, they were all asked to sit down,” Fr. Innocent narrated, and added, “Fr. Elvis was in the parish house, and on arriving at the scene, he was ordered to sit down on the ground. Before he could sit down, he was shot on the leg.”
“The teachers were also shot in the legs,” the Cameroonian Catholic Priest said, and explained, “It was sporadic shooting. Some were shot once, others multiple times. Fr. Elvis was shot on both legs and on his left hand.”
He said that the Priest, and all those that had sustained injuries in the midday shooting were rushed to a hospital in Mamfe where X-ray results revealed “a serious fracture in his left hand.”
Fr. Innocent said that Fr. Elvis had been transferred to another hospital in Bamenda where he had been stabilized and “is now out of danger”.
“This is the second serious attack after the killing of Fr. Cosmas Ondari in 2018,” Fr. Innocent told ACI Africa, and added, “There have, however, been several attacks targeting priests and religious in other parishes.”
Cameroon’s English-speaking regions plunged into conflict in 2016 after a protest by lawyers and teachers turned violent. An armed movement of separatists claiming independence for the so-called republic of Ambazonia emerged following the government’s crackdown on protesters.
School boycotts have become common in these areas, as have enforced moratoriums on public life known as “ghost towns”.
In the September 27 interview with ACI Africa, Fr. Innocent’s word of encouragement to missionaries who are sometimes targeted in killings and kidnappings in the six-year Cameroonian conflict is “Courage.”
The Catholic Priest further appeals to parties in the Anglophone crisis to shun violence, saying, “We are appealing for peace through brotherly dialogue and reconciliation.”
“The gun has never brought peace but truth, justice, reconciliation… bring lasting peace. We all have to turn our hearts to God and live according to his will,” the MHM Priest says.