At least 12 persons were killed in a riot that broke out Monday in Douala, the economic capital of Cameroon. The riot stemmed from a general strike action by urban and interurban transport unions protesting against an increases in foodstuff and petroleum prices.
The unrest which started on Saturday in Douala, escalated on Monday with scenes of looting coupled with clashes between police forces and strikers in what looked like a city in an uprising.
“Two people were pulled out of their cars and beaten to death in the Bonaberi area”, according to an eye witness. “A third person was burnt to death in a fire that ravaged an administrative building in the 5th arrondissement of Doula, while a young man suffocated to death from tear gas used to quell the riots, as well as two others in Bessengue, an area close to the commercial area”, he added.
In other developments, a female gendarme who found herself caught in a stranglehold among rioters, opened fire killing a college student, whose body is presently being kept at the Laquintinie Hospital morgue, according to sources.
Last Saturday, two protesters were shot to death when the police opened fire using real bullets in an area known as “Rond point Dakar”, a working-class neighbourhood in the Cameroonian economic capital, during a political meeting organised by the Social Democratic Front (SDF, the main parliamentary opposition party) which was finally postponed.
The SDF had planned to protest the amendment of the Cameroonian Constitution to favour a third term representation by Paul Biya in the next presidential election in 2011.
A well supported general strike
The rallying cry for the general strike, Monday, by fourteen Camerooninan transport union organisations against the increase in petroleum prices that has in turn increased prices for other products, was largely supported across the country, especially in Douala.
No car nor motto bikes were to be seen in the city’s streets on Monday morning. This forced thousands of people to get to their work places by foot.
The strikers, endorsed by the National Union of Transport Owners and Taxi-Motto drivers, demanded an end to abuses from city guards and police forces both in Douala and Yaoundé, a lowering of foodstuff and petroleum prices, as well as a collective labour agreement governing their occupation.
Populations in Douala erected roadblocks and burnt car tyres. Widespread looting was also reported among gas service stations and shops.
Clashes between police forces and protestors also took place in Douala. No incidents were reported in Yaondé.