Cameroon

Vigilantes fight Boko Haram with bows and arrows

Two teenage female suicide bombers blew themselves up in a busy market in Nigeria’s northeastern city of Maiduguri, Borno state, on Nov. 25, killing at least 30 people. Deutsche Welle reports from neighboring Adamawa state (see map) that traditional hunters in rural areas, armed only with bows and arrows, are organizing patrols to protect their villages against Boko Haram. While one vigilante told DW, "our prayers protect us against their weapons," the report was not clear if the force is made up of Muslims, Christians or both. Said Hilary Matfess, a political scientist at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore: "What's interesting about the rise of these vigilante groups is the fact that they typically don't fall along sectarian lines. It's an almost spontaneous response by local communities to the failure of the police and military to maintain order." (DWCSM, Nov. 25)  

Boko Haram seizes five Nigerian towns

Over the past five days, Boko Haram has seized five towns in Nigeria's northeast, killing hundreds and leaving thousands of residents fleeing for safety as it continues its quest to establish a "caliphate" in the country. The towns captured include Bara in Yobe state, Banki and Bamain Borno state, and Madagali and Gulakwere in Adamawa state. Boko Haram forces were driven from Bama, in Borno state, after intense aerial bombardment by Nigeria's air force Sept. 7. Tension is mounting in Maiduguri, the Borno state capital, amid fears that the insurgents are mounting an offensive on the city. Further territorial gains by Boko Haram could worsen a dire humanitarian situation. Thousands of refugees have sought sanctuary in Maiduguri, and the UN estimates that 9,000 fleeing violence have arrived in Cameroon in the past ten days, with another 2,000 crossing into Niger, which has already taken in 50,000 refugees since May 2013. (The Punch, ThisDayLive, Nigeria; Leadership, Nigeria, via AllAfrica, Sept. 7; The Economist, Sept. 6)

Boko Haram steps up Cameroon raids

Nigerian radical Islamist group Boko Haram's is increasingly troubling the remote Far North Region of Cameroon, which has seen several attacks in recent months, with foreigners also abducted for ransom. This month, heavily armed men suspected to be Boko Haram fighters attacked Bonderi village, five kilometers from the border with Nigeria, and stole a military vehicle, four motorbikes and weapons from the gendarmerie base there, government officials told IRIN news agency. Another group of suspected Boko Haram gunmen also raided a gendarmerie border post in Zina town on July 8, three days prior to the Bonderi attack, and stole guns and ammunition. In June, two teenage sons of a Muslim cleric were kidnapped in Limani border town. The attacks, the latest of which claimed the life of a police officer and wounded another on July 18, have occurred despite the deployment in June of 1,000 additional soldiers to the Far North.

Cameroon takes steps against Boko Haram

The authorities in Yaoundé, the Cameroonian capital, have set up tighter border controls in the Far North region to guard against infiltration by jihadist Boko Haram fighters from neighboring Nigeria as civilians flee insurgent attacks and a Nigerian military offensive, seeking safety across the border in Cameroon. A rapid response military unit has also been deployed and beefed up in the northern regions and some tourist hotels now have armed guards. "We have revised our security strategy. We have registered all expatriates and established police posts in areas where they work. There are security control posts along the border to reduce illegal entry," said Bob-Iga Emmanuel, the head of police division at the governor's office in the Far North region.

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