Cameroon school shooting: Bishop requests prayers for victims

After gunmen killed at least six children in a private school in Kumba, Cameroon, on Saturday, Bishop Agapitus Nfon calls on the government to find a lasting solution to the problem, and invites the faithful to dedicate this Friday as a day of prayer for the victims.

By Vatican News staff writer

Bishop Agapitus Nfon of Kumba has invited the faithful to join in prayer for the victims and perpetrators of an attack on a private school in Cameroon’s southwestern region, which left at least six school children dead.

Unidentified gunmen stormed Mother Francisca International Bilingual Academy in Fiango Kumba on Saturday, and opened fire on students on in a classroom, killing six on the spot and injuring several  others.

During the Mass, which will be celebrated on Friday at the Sacred Heart Cathedral in Fiango Kumba, prayers will be offered for “the repose of the souls of our dear and innocent students who were murdered,” according to the Bishop. The Mass will also be offered for “God’s consolation on their parents and families and guardians, and for all our traumatized pupils and students.”

“My dear people wrapped in grief, our only true hope is God!” the Bishop said in a statement on Saturday. “Let us turn to Him in our desperation and prayerfully cry to Him to come to our assistance.”

Violent attacks

“Because of this barbarous act, the people of Kumba are wailing, the entire Diocese of Kumba is mourning, our hearts have been crushed because our innocent children are no more,” the Bishop lamented. “We are crying and asking why our children are murdered? What did they do wrong? Is it because they went to school?” 

The Bishop also recalled a previous attack in May 2020 when a pregnant woman and some children were murdered in Ngarbuh, in the diocese of Kumbo.

He compared the horrifying deaths to the slaughter of the infants ordered by King Herod and the voice of Rachel in the prophesy of Jeremiah (Jer 31: 15), lamenting bitterly over her children because they are no more. 

“Today, Saturday, 24 October, 2020,” he said, “Kumba is reliving that prophecy not long after the heinous massacre of innocent children and pregnant women in Ngarbuh… “Was Ngarbuh not enough? How much of the blood of our children need to be shed before something concrete and immediate is done?” 

Appeal to government

Bishop Nfon called on the government and international bodies to “look for a lasting solution to this problem that will restore justice and peace.”

Condemning the Saturday attack, the Bishop noted that it comes barely five months after the Ngarbuh massacre which drew condemnation from many quarters. 

“Where will it be next, if something concrete and immediate is not done by the powers that be and can make things happen?” he asked, adding that Saturday was the “darkest and saddest day” for Kumba since the nation’s socio-political crisis affecting the North West and South West Regions began.

Years of unrest

Since 2016, parts of Cameroon have been gripped by unrest since Anglophone groups began to call for their independence.

Some schools in Cameroon have only recently reopened following a four-year shutdown, as the separatists’ fight for an independent state they wish to be known as Ambazonia carries on.

Currently, authorities have not been able to identify the assailants, and neither are they able to ascertain the reason why the school was targeted.