People at a market place in the Far North of Cameroon
PHOTO CREDIT: DEUTSCHE WELLE
VOICE OF AMERICA
March 14, 2014
Moki Edwin Kindzeka
Cameroon says the Nigerian Islamic sect
Boko Haram is suspected in an attack on
one of its markets near Kousseri – with at least one soldier killed. A similar attack occurred March 9 in the same area. The latest incident also provoked panic in a convoy of guarded Chadian refugees who had fled sectarian violence in the Central African Republic.
Residents say the attackers entered
Cameroon through the porous borders
and shot at soldiers Thursday in a market near Kousseri, a town close to Cameroon’s borders with Nigeria and Chad.
“Two Boko Haram people came to the
market on a motorcycle in broad day
light,” eyewitness Mahamat Djibril, a
businessman, told VOA. He said he thinks
they shot and killed several soldiers. The governor of the Far North Region, Awah Fonka Augustin, also said he thought Boko Haram was involved.
“There was a confrontation between
Boko Haram and soldiers that were
present,” he said. The governor says the
town has returned to normal and he
called on the population to be calm,saying the military is there to protect their safety.
Minister of Communications Issa Tchiroma Bakari said the attack was the
work of foreign insurgents from a
bordering country that is experiencing
what he called a “religious crisis.” But he
did not specifically name Boko Haram. He called on nearby countries to respect
Cameroon’s peaceful position. He said Cameroon is a country where priests and imams meet for ecumenical church services and this is an asset.
Boko Haram says it is fighting to create a strict Islamic state in the mainly Muslim north of Nigeria. The shadowy group is blamed for thousands of deaths since 2009. Cameroon is caught in between Nigeria’s violence-plagued north and the sectarian conflict engulfing its eastern neighbor, the Central African Republic. The shooting incident near Kousseri created panic among some 300 Chadians who fled the C.A.R. and were passing through Cameroon on their way back home.
Said Abdoul was in the convoy. He tells
VOA the Chadians they are afraid to
continue their journey from the town of
Ngaoundere. “It is dangerous to leave Ngaoundere” he said, “because we hear that Boko Haram groups are around and can kill us.”
Last year Boko Haram kidnapped a French family and a priest in northern Cameroon. Concerns have recently surfaced that Boko Haram may be using neighboring nations as safe havens from which to launch attacks. Earlier this month, Cameroon strongly denied it was allowing its territory to be used as a training ground for terrorist groups, including Boko Haram.