Yaoundé: Rights campaigners in Cameroon accused authorities of covering up for the security forces during a string of killings in the country's political unrest in February 2008, said a report obtained on Monday by Agence France Presse (AFP).
Members of the security forces opened fire indiscriminately on civilians, using automatic rifles and even light-machine guns mounted on pick-up trucks, said the report by National Observatory of Human Rights (ONDH).
But the authorities put pressure on hospital directors to cover up crimes committed by the security forces by hiding evidence, it alleged.
In February 2008 President Paul Biya sent troops on to the street following violent protests over the cost of living that included a road haulage strike over the price of fuel.
The protests were also directed against a revision of the constitution that allowed Biya to run for a third term.
New trouble and repression
The ONDH report called on the government to publicly acknowledge and condemn the excessive force used by the security forces during the violence.
It dismissed the official toll of 40 dead for last year's violence, saying the true figure ran to at least 139.
Other rights groups have also put the figure at more than a hundred.
"Even if the situation today is stable, the possibility of new trouble and repression remains real, notably with the approach of the 2011 presidential election," said the report.
Despite citizens' complaints the government had failed to set up a commission of inquiry into the violence to establish where the blame lay, the report said.
Culture of impunity
And while thousands of people had been arrested during and after the riots and taken through the courts, no one from the security forces had faced any sanctions.
The ONDH, an alliance of several local rights groups, also called for a judicial inquiry into the violence.
In January, a report by Amnesty International condemned what it called a culture of impunity in Cameroon that allowed the security forces to carry out incessant human rights violations.
"Cameroonian security forces routinely use excessive and unnecessary lethal force," said the report. "The perpetrators have almost always enjoyed impunity."
Biya has ruled Cameroon since 1982.