The president made a less than conciliatory speech last night, basically blaming the unrest on the opposition parties, accusing them of inciting dissent. Today, February 28, 2008, the army was sent in to Bamenda, which ups the ante somewhat. The local police are less excited about actually shooting at or harming their neighbours, but soldiers from other parts of the country will likely be less sympathetic.

The morning was more active; the army trucks drove right past the compound entrance (which is on a major road), tear gas/concussion bombs were going off in fairly close succession for a while (though there was little gunfire), and right around noon there were some confrontations down the hill--young men being chased by the police ran down the road just over the hedge by the lower edge of the compound.

Yesterday, one person was snapping pictures of some of the events with a zoom lens when the gendarmes passed by. They confiscated his camera and examined the cell phones of other lookers-on to see if they’d taken photos. Also yesterday, we heard they raided the Brasseries (alcohol and soft-drinks bottling plant) where rumour has it the owner said “help yourself, just don’t harm the equipment.” With a smirk on his face and tongue firmly planted in cheek, one of the men said “the police beckoned the looters to come and threw tear gas in the opposite direction.”

At 3 o’clock most of the crowds have dissipated, the tire fires appear quenched, and all is quiet; no tear gas or gunfire heard for a few hours, but reports from Mile 2 across town say police are firing on people and one person has been killed.

It’s surreal to be going around our normal business on the compound here, reminded periodically of the strife by the sound of explosions and gunfire. One lady commented how disturbing it is for these sounds to become normal, but for me, while I’m not freaking out about them, they still cause me to jump every time and a small knot to form in the pit of my stomach.

Pray for a swift and peaceful resolution of this conflict. The problems that exist are not likely to be solved by riots and protests.

international news is reporting on events here on the Africa page of BBC News, but as rumours are rife, I cannot vouch for their accuracy.


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