13 June 2017

Cameroon: Surge in Suspected Boko Haram Attacks Hits North

Suicide bombers attacked two border towns and a military base in northern Cameroon over the weekend, according to local officials. The violence is part of a recent string of attacks in the border area attributed to militant group Boko Haram.

Five suicide bombers crossed from Nigeria into the Mayo Sava division of northern Cameroon on Saturday, said Babila Akao, the most senior government official in that area.

He told VOA by phone that the bombers were targeting the towns of Mora and Kolofata, but only two were able to detonate their vests.

During an emergency security meeting the day before the attack, Akao said, soldiers and members of the local self-defense groups had been deployed to control the northern entrance to Mora from Nigeria and seal all entrances into the towns and surrounding villages, if necessary. He said the blasts claimed no victims aside from the two bombers, but many self-defense group members were wounded.

He said security forces shot dead a third suicide bomber and are searching for two attackers who ran without detonating their vests.

On Sunday, the government announced that another suicide bomber had blown herself up at a military base near Mora, killing one soldier.

It was the 27th reported suicide bombing this year on Cameroon's northern border with Nigeria. A third of those attacks have taken place in the past two-and-a-half weeks, including an attack on a camp for internally displaced persons, also in Mora.

Earlier this month, the United Nations cautioned people against traveling to the Far North region of Cameroon, saying that the arrest of the Boko Haram commander in charge of the town of Kousseri had triggered a surge of violence. The government has not confirmed that arrest.

Attacks in the border area also appear to have increased since the start of Ramadan.

The Council of Muslim Dignitaries and Imams of Cameroon has dispatched its members to the area to educate the population and instruct local Muslim clerics to be watchful.

The council’s president, Moussa Oumarou, says terrorists use this holy month of fasting to deceive young Muslims that if they die fighting for Allah they will go straight to paradise. He says poverty makes youth more vulnerable to that message.

The governor of the Far North region, Midjiyawa Bakari, declined to comment on the cause of the violence, but said residents should remain on alert.


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