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Cameroon: Violent Clashes Between Motorbike Taxi Drivers and Douala Citizens

On December 31, 2011, in the popular district of Deido in Douala, the economic capital of Cameroon, riots broke out between the inhabitants of the district and motorbike taxi drivers, also know as “benskiners”. The violence is ongoing according to this article in the daily newspaper Le Jour and several testimonies by Cameroonian netizens.

Elie Kopter explains the reason for the riots on Facebook [fr]:

un jeune homme de deido rentrait de boîte avec sa copine (05h du mat ) ; elle se fait arracher son sac à main par le passager d'une mototaxi et comme son copain tentait de s'interposer il reçoit un coup de couteau à la base du cou , et en décède . Les jeunes du quartier alertés décident de faire la peau aux conducteurs de moto qui arpentent le quartier . En réaction les conducteurs de moto saccagent les kiosques et autres commerces dans le quartier . Les forces de l'ordre s'interposent pour ramener le calme

a young man from Deido was on his way home  from a club with his girlfriend (at 5 a.m in the morning) when her ​​handbag was snatched by the passenger of a taxi motorbike. As her boyfriend tried to intervene, he was stabbed at the base of the neck, and died from the wound. When the youngsters of the neighborhood learned of the news, they decided to go after any motorbike taxi drivers who roamed around the neighborhood. In retaliation, the ”benskiners” sacked kiosks and other businesses in the neighborhood. The police are intervening to restore calm

The following video posted on YouTube by user on January 3, 2012, shows inhabitants destroying a taxi motorbike in Deido:

User Gefcasting shared a video recorded from Cameroonian private television channel Equinoxe TV which reported the event on January 3, 2012:

According to a government report, the riots have already caused the death of four people. The day after in Deido, confusion still seems to reign [fr]:

Les motos-taxis men qui ont donné hier l’impression de reculer sont revenus en nombre.
Massés par centaines aux portes du quartier, ils ont tenté de casser les barrières de police afin d’aller en découdre avec leurs vis-à-vis, eux aussi sur le pied de guerre.
Des commerces ont à nouveau été incendiés, des motos vandalisées, sous le regard des forces de l’ordre quelque peu débordées.

The motorbike taxi drivers who seemingly were laying low yesterday, are now back in great numbers. Hundreds of them gathered at the gates of the district as they tried to break police barriers and go after their rivals.

Some shops were vandalized in the process and more motorbikes were burned as the police forces looked on, seemingly overwhelmed by the situation.

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