Buea: mountain race kicks off amid tight security 0

The 29th edition of Mount Cameroon Race, Africa’s oldest international athletic competition, kicked off early Saturday in Southwest, one of the two English-speaking regions of the country torn by a separatist armed conflict.

Cameroon’s Minister of Sports and Physical Education, Narcisse Mouelle Kombi, who presided at the opening ceremony, said tight security measures have been put in place to ensure the safety of the athletes.

“We are assuring them (athletes) that everything will be fine. Their security and safety is assured,” Kombi told reporters.

Reporters covering the race saw multiple police and army checkpoints and military helicopters flying low in Buea, the chief town of the Southwest region where the race is taking place.

Cameroon elite forces, Rapid Intervention Battalion, have been deployed to the neighborhoods of the town.

Separatist fighters who have been active in the region since 2017 have threatened to disrupt the annual event.

Last year, at least 18 people were injured after blasts went off in three locations just a few minutes after the race began.

The race is unfolding under the theme “Give peace a chance”.

About 600 from Congo, Ethiopia, France, Kenya, Lebanon, Morocco, Tanzania, Chad, Tunisia and Cameroon are taking part in the competition.

The race, dubbed Race of Hope, is of a particularly difficult terrain, with athletes going up and down the mountain, which is over 4,100 meters above sea level.

Source: Xinhuanet