Boko Haram launches deadly surprise raid into Cameroon, taking 80 prisoners back to Nigeria
Militants from the Nigerian Islamist group Boko Haram launched a surprise raid across the border into Cameroon, abducting 80 people in an attack that killed three.
Boko Haram gunmen on a truck in Nigeria. Formerly limited to attacks in Northern Nigeria, the group has begun attacking neighboring countries recently.
LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Officials with Cameroon's government and army reported that the attack occurred on January 18. Of the 80 abducted people more than half were children.
"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," an anonymous senior officer with the Cameroon army told Reuters.
Members of Chad's military, during operations in Mali in 2013. Recently, Chad has deployed troops to Cameroon on that country's request, to help combat Boko Haram.
Boko Haram fighters usually carry out their attacks in Nigeria, having killed thousands and kidnapped hundreds. But in their efforts to establish an independent Islamic state they have also attacked Cameroon and Niger numerous times through 2014.
During the raid, soldiers were able to intervene, and forced Boko Haram to leave after a two-hour-long firefight.
Cameroon's defense ministry reporter that these soldiers pursued the fleeing Islamic militants, and about 20 of the hostages were able to escape as Cameroon "defense forces pursued the attackers who were heading back to Nigeria."
It is still unclear exactly how many did escape, or when.
Issa Tchiroma, a spokesman for the Cameroon government was able to confirm the attack and three deaths, but was unable to accurately say how many people had been captured.
Of the raid he did say that "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."
A presidential election set for February 14 is part of the reason that Boko Haram may be stepping up its attacks in Cameroon.
A video was posted online in January, and a man who claimed to be Abubakar Shekau, the leader of Boko Haram, threatened to continue and even escalate the violence in Cameroon, unless it becomes an Islamic state.
In recent months Nigeria and neighboring countries have stepped up their efforts to defend themselves from Boko Haram. Chad, which has one of Africa's most potent militaries, has deployed troops in Cameroon at the president's request, to bolster the thousands of Cameroon soldiers already deployed at the border.
In 2013, Chad helped French military forces drive out an al-Qaeda-linked group in Mali. One of the first times that an Islamist group in Africa has been defeated.
Copyright 2018 - Distributed by THE CALIFORNIA NETWORK
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