Around 50 armed men who were “shooting from everywhere… broke down the prison doors,” local official William Benoit Emvoutu Mbita told state radio CRTV.
They then used fuel to “set fire to all the buildings” of the prison in Ndop, added Mbita, the local administrator.
Inmates who return “voluntarily” will be transferred to a prison in Bamenda, the capital of North-West region, Mbita said, adding that a manhunt was on for the escapees.
Separatist unrest in Cameroon’s two minority English-speaking regions – North-West and South-West – has left scores dead and displaced over 180 000 people since late 2016.
Years of resentment at perceived discrimination at the hands of the Cameroon’s francophone majority have led to almost daily acts of violence and retribution.
Security in the two regions has deteriorated significantly since late last year.
Anglophones today account for about a fifth of the West African country’s population of 22 million