Things have fallen apart in the former French colony of Cameroon, and the former colonial master, France is suing for peace.

France on Friday condemned the attacks by suspected English-speaking separatists in Cameroon that killed three French-speaking police officers on Thursday, but urged the Cameroonian government to engage in dialogue to stop an escalation in violence.

The separatists have taken up arms over the past year in an attempt to create a nation they call Ambazonia. The insurgency represents the gravest challenge yet to the 35-year rule of Cameroon’s President Paul Biya.

France, which has significant business interests in its former colony, and relies on it to fight against Islamist militants, has been careful not to overly criticise the government’s handling of the crisis.

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“France condemns the new killings of law enforcement officials that took place on 1 February in Cameroon,” Foreign ministry spokeswoman Agnes Von der Muhll told reporters in a daily briefing after three policemen were killed in separate clashes on Thursday in towns in the North West Region.

She said only dialogue would enable a peaceful response to the concerns of all sides and ensure the unity and integrity of the country.

“This is a message we are also passing on to the Cameroonian authorities, in close consultation with our European and international partners,” the spokeswoman added.

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