Gunmen blockade bridge in Cameroon's largest city
Published Thursday, September 29, 2011 6:18AM EDT
DOUALA, Cameroon - Gunmen blockaded a major bridge in Cameroon's largest city early Thursday and shot at police for several hours in an attack only 10 days before the country's presidential election.
Sporadic gunshots still could be heard in the area hours later, and heavily armed soldiers have been deployed across the city of Douala to search vehicles.
Eyewitness Itah Robert said the gunfight took place on the Wouri Bridge, which is used by some 35,000 vehicles a day.
"A fierce exchange of gunfire ensued and one of the gunmen plunged into the River Wouri," he told The Associated Press. "It is not clear if he drowned."
Authorities arrested four of the attackers and said no bystanders were wounded in the melee on the bridge.
Twenty-two candidates are challenging President Paul Biya in the Oct. 9 poll. Biya, who has ruled the country since 1982 and is considered one of Africa's remaining strongmen, is widely expected to win another seven-year term.
In 2008, he removed term limits from the constitution, provoking nationwide unrest that left 40 dead according to government statistics.