Nineteen runners were apparently injured and sent to the Buea Regional Hospital in Beau, Cameroon during an annual trail race on Saturday. The Ambazonia Defence Forces (ADF), who seek separation from French-speaking Cameroon carried out the attack.

According to the governor of the regional, Bernard Okalia Bilai, the homemade bomb exploded just 30 minutes after 530 athletes, who were taking part in the Mount Cameroon Race of Hope, started. The event is an annual footrace and starts and finishes at the Molyko Omnisport Stadium. 

The improvised explosive device had been placed in a garbage receptacle which was apparently detonated when athletes were running by. Smoke engulfed some of the athletes and spectators. Two more had exploded later in different locations close to the Molyko Omnisport Stadium.

Oddly, the governor said, “I must emphasize that the explosions did not disturb the race.”

“We have done (surgical) operations on the three serious cases already and they are stable. Among those, we received are three children – the youngest is one year, six months old,” the Director of the hospital, Dr Martin Mokake said.

It was the 50th anniversary of the annual sporting event.

The Southwest region of Cameroon is one of two English-speaking regions where citizens are demanding the separation of English speakers from the majority French-speaking country, which has continued since 2017. The separatists say they want to form an independent country called Ambazonia, which would be made up of the two English-speaking regions.

“The ADF, a military wing of the Ambazonia Governing Council carried out the attack,” Capo Daniel, deputy defense chief and spokesman for the armed group told Nation Sport adding that, “our primary target was the Cameroon elite forces, the Rapid Intervention Battalion (BIR) that were providing security for the athletes.”