YAOUNDE, Feb. 11 (Xinhua) -- The Cameroonian government on Monday held armed separatists responsible for the hospital fire that killed four patients earlier in the day in southwestern Cameroon.
"The fire incident in Kumba District Hospital was committed by close to 20 secessionists rebels," Minister of Communication and government spokesman Rene Sadi said in a statement.
The hospital is located in Southwest Region, one of Cameroon's two war-torn English-speaking regions.
"They came with heavy weapons and created panic in the hospital by shooting in the air. They burned the hospital, " and four patients died from the violence, Sadi said, adding that the government "condemns the act."
A witness who preferred not to be named said armed separatists stormed the hospital and set it ablaze after ordering all patients to leave.
"Everyone was afraid when the boys (armed separatists) came and we all ran out of the hospital," the witness told Xinhua.
Separatists published a disclaimer on social media, saying they are not "responsible for the fire incident in the hospital" and blamed the government forces for burning down the hospital "in order to tarnish our image internationally."
Armed separatists are seeking to secede from the African country dominated by a French-speaking majority and create a new nation called "Ambazonia."
According to the United Nations, more than 430,000 people have been displaced internally since clashes between the separatists and government forces began in 2017.