The girl’s death sparked protests in Buea, with protesters marching her body to the regional governor’s office. Sporadic gunfire also erupted in the town, although it is not known who was firing.
Secessionist fighters angry at the perceived marginalization of Cameroon’s French-speaking majority have been fighting government troops in two English-speaking regions for nearly five years in a bid to form a separatist state called Ambazonia.
Over 3,000 people have been killed and nearly a million displaced, with both sides accused of committing atrocities.
The ministry said in a statement that the driver of the vehicle initially refused to stop at a gendarmerie checkpoint, then tried to extricate himself from officers who managed to force him to stop.
“In the process, little Caro Louise Ndialle, a young student of about 5 years old, who was in the said vehicle, was fatally shot in the head. “
A crowd then descended on the gendarme and killed him, the ministry said, adding that an investigation had been opened into the two deaths.
Hundreds of residents took to the streets of Buea, some holding tree branches as a sign of peace. Others held up 500 CFA francs ($ 0.88) bills, which they said was the amount the girl’s parents refused to pay before the gendarme opened fire.
Several said the incident was part of a pattern of heavily militarized security forces harassing local residents.
“All they do is bully people. If you have an ID card, that’s a problem. If you don’t have an ID card, that’s a problem, ”said one protester, who declined to give her name for security reasons.
The regional governor’s office promised swift action as it tried to calm the crowd that had marched to its office.
“How is it that a child on the way to school is killed?” said Governor Bernard Okala Bilai. “Rest assured that those who did it will pay. It is an atrocity. “