Cameroon Mobilizes Military Following Boko Haram, Separatist Attacks

Soldiers of the rapid intervention battalion BIR, combat ready in Maroua, far northern Cameroon, Jan. 17 2019.

Yaounde — Cameroon says it is mobilizing troops along the country’s northern border with Nigeria and in the western English-speaking regions, following renewed attacks by Boko Haram in the north and separatists in the west.

Cameroon’s military calls for troops to assemble at its headquarters in Yaounde ahead of major deployments.

Defense Chief of Staff Lieutenant-General Rene Claude Meka said 2019 will see Cameroon fight for national unity and territorial integrity.

He said they have re-mobilized the military to all trouble spots. Boko Haram, the Nigeria-based Islamist terrorist group, is again recruiting fighters in Cameroon and attacking our northern border, said Meka. Meanwhile, separatists fighting to create an English-speaking state have recruited mercenaries from neighboring countries to destabilize Cameroon, he said.

Cameroon’s military says there is a Boko Haram resurgence on its northern border with Nigeria. It reports five attacks across the border and in the Lake Chad basin this month.

Last week three people were reported killed in the border town of Fotokol as troops repelled a Boko Haram attack.

Separatist fighting also intensified in Cameroon’s two English-speaking regions in the northwest and southwest. The military said at least 45 rebels have been killed in the first three weeks of the year. Separatists say they are the ones killing the soldiers.

Although the numbers cannot be independently verified, villagers have confirmed fighting has recently increased.

Twenty-seven-year-old Elengu Noella said two of her three children were killed in heavy fighting around the southwestern town of Buea and she has not been able to find her husband.

She said a Catholic Church Hospital ambulance helped her and four other women escape as a battle raged between Cameroon’s military and separatists.

Separatists seeking an independent English-speaking state are accused of abducting and killing opponents and trying to make their regions ungovernable.

Defense Minister Joseph Beti Assomo said President Paul Biya also ordered troops to Cameroon’s eastern border. He said spill-over from fighting in the Central African Republic has increased criminal activities.

2019 will not be a bed of roses. We shall continue with various operations in the far north, northwest and southwest regions, reactivation of special operations in the Adamawa region where criminal groups specialized in kidnapping are wreaking havoc and requesting for ransom," he said.

Isaac Sama is a political analyst at Cameroon’s Center for Peace and Development. He said while troop deployments to fight foreign invaders is justified, the government should attempt to negotiate with the separatists.

Sama said more and more civilians are displaced by the fighting each time the military attacks the rebels.

"We have practical situations of people who actually died and then those who are in the bushes, they are also in bad conditions. They have no access to anything."

Cameroon says since fighting broke out with separatists in 2016, more than 1,200 people have been killed and nearly a quarter million displaced.

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