Cameroon’s army, backed up by a regional task force, has killed at least 100 members of the militant Islamist Boko Haram group and freed 900 people it had held hostage, the west African country’s army and defence ministry announced on Wednesday.
Cameroon is part of an 8,700-strong regional task force also comprising troops from Chad, Niger, Nigeria and Benin that aims to destroy Boko Haram, which though based mainly in Nigeria has become a major threat to wider regional security.
Army spokesman Colonel Didier Badjeck said troops had conducted a sweep operation between November 26-28 along Cameroon’s long border with its western neighbour Nigeria.
Both Badjeck and the defence ministry, which gave a brief statement on state television, cited the same figures of militant deaths and the number of people freed.
Other military sources in Cameroon confirmed that a military operation had taken place, although one expressed surprise at its scale.
It was not immediately clear where the clashes with the militants had taken place or where Boko Haram’s captives had been held. It was also not known whether those freed included any of the more than 200 schoolgirls seized by the militants in their dormitories in Chibok, Nigeria last year.
Cameroon has suffered regular cross-border attacks in its Far North Region in recent weeks, including twin suicide blasts overnight that killed at least three people.
Suicide bombings, often carried out by young women recruited by the militant group in Nigeria, are becoming almost daily occurrences in the Far North region.