Cameroon battles Nigeria's Boko Haram

2014-06-24 10:08
Boko Haram Islamists leader Abubakar Shekau. (File AFP

Boko Haram Islamists leader Abubakar Shekau. (File AFP

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Amchide - Cameroon, stepping up its co-operation with Nigeria against the deadly Islamist campaign by Boko Haram insurgents, is working to rout them from a key stronghold in a remote northern border region.

Amchide, a city in the far north of Cameroon near the Nigerian town of Banki, has become a hotbed for fighters from the extremist group - one police officer estimates they account for 90 percent of the population.

"Amchide is Boko Haram's local fiefdom," said Lieutenant-Colonel Thierry Foumane, the regional commander of Cameroon's Rapid Intervention Battalion (BIR), an elite army unit recently deployed to the remote area.

Cameroon, like other countries in the region, has greatly stepped up its operations against Boko Haram since the April kidnapping of more than 200 schoolgirls in northern Nigeria sparked international outrage.

The Islamist group has been terrorising Nigeria with almost daily attacks in recent weeks as part of a bloody five-year insurgency that has already claimed thousands of lives.

Militants often use Cameroon as a staging post to launch attacks and kidnappings in Nigeria as the border is extremely porous, with no buffer-zone clearly separating the two countries.

'Anything goes in Amchide'

When leaving Cameroon, the boundary is marked by a simple iron bar followed by a sign announcing the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

A Cameroonian army officer pointed out a house that literally straddled the border. "Look at this house. The living room is in Cameroon, but the other rooms are in Nigeria," he said.

Further complicating the operation is that Boko Haram has infiltrated families: "In the same family you can find honest people but also Boko Haram members," Foumane said.

"Our greatest challenge is to win people's confidence so they will report the bad apples. But how can you expect a parent to hand over his son, or a youth to turn in his brother?"

The situation also makes it easy for the Islamists to work their way into Amchide, a police officer with long experience in the area said on condition of anonymity.

He described them as ruthless, with beatings and blackmail in their arsenal.

For them, "anything goes in Amchide", he said. "They have offered money to youths to rally them to their cause, and they have coerced the more fearful ones into joining them."

Alliances with businesses

He said the Boko Haram infiltrators have also developed alliances with businesses and "forced others to finance their activities".

Since Boko Haram began its deadly campaign, the Cameroonian city has become a hub of trafficking - in weapons, cars or manufactured goods - which the Nigerian extremists use to finance their recruitment.

Amchide has also been a staging ground for attacks on Banki.

"We have faced Boko Haram actions since 2009," Foumane said, adding that the menace finally prompted the army to deploy the elite BIR to the border area.

He described Amchide as a forward base under the control of the Cameroonian army, while many other military bases have been set up in the far northern region.

'Too many bad people'

The police officer said the army was "cleaning up" Amchide. "Several dozen" people, either suspected Islamists or businessmen suspected of collaborating with them, have been arrested, he said.

"The wave of arrests continues," he added.

"The BIR guys are working day and night. They are purging the city. There were too many bad people," a customs officer said, also requesting anonymity. "The Islamists are dispersing little by little to the villages."

Some residents hailed the military operation.

"Before there were a lot of bad people. Now they are hunting them," an elderly man said.

But the soldiers deployed here, facing frequent harassment from the insurgents, know their mission is far from over. "A Boko Haram member is never far away," a top army officer said.
Read more on:    boko haram  |  cameroon  |  nigeria  |  west africa
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
SPONSORED CONTENT
When is a mountain more than just a mountain? 2014-12-18 07:26

When it’s an adventure! A group of Old Mutual employees found out how much is enough courage, endurance and camaraderie to take on Africa's highest peak.

/News
 

Joburg hot spots for cocktails, craft beer, tapas and wine!

It’s the season to be jolly – so we’ve rounded up some new Joburg hot spots!

 
 

I love summer.24

Summer Survey!
Great ideas for the best summer sandwiches!
Christmas lingerie to make this festive season the best one ever!
13 things you might not know about Disneyland

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

2DAYS ONLY – 30% off Appliances

Coffee makers, blenders, fans, juicers and more. T&Cs apply. Shop now!

2 DAYS ONLY – 40% off books

Get 40% off when you buy 2 books. For two days only! T&Cs apply. Buy now!

Up to 50% off on outdoor gear

Save on chairs, blankets, cooler bags, umbrellas and more. Shop now!

Save on Samsung

Cameras, mobile phones, TVs, Tablets and more. While stocks last. Shop now!

Grand Theft Auto 5

Now available on PS4, Xbox One and PC from R649. Buy now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

The energy today is serious, materialistic and hardworking. You may find you get a new outlook on things and you may want to spend...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.