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Gunmen blockade bridge in Cameroon's largest city 10 days ahead of presidential vote
DOUALA, Cameroon (AP) ' Gunmen wearing military uniforms and carrying signs opposing Cameroon's longtime ruler blockaded a major bridge early Thursday, shooting at police for several hours in an attack just 10 days before the 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. President Paul Biya, who has been in power since 1982, faces 22 challengers in the Oct. 9 poll.
Eyewitness Itah Robert said Thursday's early morning gunfight took place on the mile-long 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 said. "It is not clear if he drowned."
One witness told The Associated Press that the gunmen had placards that read: "Paul Biya Must Go At All Costs" and "Paul Biya Dictator."
Biya, who is considered one of Africa's remaining strongmen, is widely expected to win another seven-year term in October. In 2008, he removed term limits from the constitution, provoking nationwide unrest that left 40 dead according to government statistics.