Barely hours after Chadian troops arrived Cameroon to support the country’s army in the fight against Boko Haram militants, the group yesterday kidnapped around 80 people, many of them children, and killed three others in a cross-border attack on villages.
The kidnapping was the biggest in Cameroon by the Islamists who have staged a series of attacks in the country in recent months. “According to our initial information, around 30 adults, most of them herders, and 50 young girls and boys aged between 10 and 15 years were abducted,” a senior army officer deployed to northern Cameroon told Reuters.
The early-morning attack had targeted the village of Mabass and other villages along the porous border. Soldiers intervened and exchanged fire with the raiders for around two hours, he added.
A police officer told AFP that the Cameroon army had “launched an operation” in the wake of the assault. Reuters said, government spokesman Issa Tchiroma confirmed the attack, in which he said three people had been killed, as well as the kidnappings. He was not able to say with certainty how many people had been taken in the raid.
“There was a Boko Haram attack on several localities in the Far North region. The assailants burnt down about 80 homes and kidnapped several inhabitants including women and very young children,” he said.
In Nigeria the Chadian troops are seeking to recapture the strategic city of Baga, on the shores of Lake Chad, which straddles the borders of Chad, Nigeria, Niger and Cameroon and which fell to the Islamists early this month.
A convoy of troops from Chad arrived in Maroua, the main town in Cameroon’s Far-North Region late on Saturday, Cameroon defence ministry spokesman Colonel Didier Badjeck said yesterday. Government officials in N’Djamena said the deployment to Cameroon includes around 2,000 soldiers, armoured vehicles and attack helicopters.
Chairman of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and Ghana’s President John Mahama on Friday said that regional leaders will seek approval from the African Union this week to create a new force to fight Boko Haram.