Boko Haram militants are believed to be responsible for an attack that left 15 people dead and eight others missing in northern Cameroon on Friday.
According to reports by Reuters and Al Jazeera, members of the Boko Haram extremist group stormed Gakara, a small village just outside the town of Kolofata near the Nigerian border, in the early hours of Friday morning, abducting eight people and killing 15 others. Reuters, citing a government source on the ground, reports that 14 of the deceased were killed by automatic fire, while one person was burned alive. Another 30 people suffered bullet wounds.
A district official, who asked not to be named because he was not authorized to speak about the events, told Reuters that the attack happened around midnight. He said the Boko Haram assailants set more than 30 houses on fire and then “killed, pillaged, and traumatized the population”. Many villagers fled to a camp near Kolofata that houses thousands of people displaced by Boko Haram violence. The mayor of Kolofata and a senior military source also confirmed to Reuters that the attack had taken place, but were unable to confirm the death toll.
Friday’s attack is the latest in a series of violent raids carried out by Boko Haram over the course of the past week. On Wednesday, the terrorist group reportedly killed 27 people in several villages across northern Nigeria’s Borno region. According to the Associated Press, Boko Haram fighters killed at least 15 people in the Nganzai local government area, injuring two others and leaving many houses destroyed. The extremist group is also thought to be responsible for an attack in the Guzamala local council area that left 12 people dead and four others injured.
The latest attacks are part of a wave of violence in the Lake Chad sub-region that has intensified over the last few weeks; Reuters estimates that 170 people have been killed by suicide bomb attacks in northeastern Nigeria since the beginning of June. Boko Haram is believed to be responsible for much of this violence, having killed more than 20,000 people and displaced 1.7 million others during its eight-year effort to establish an Islamic caliphate in the Lake Chad region.
In response to the recent violence, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari condemned Boko Haram for “attempting a new series of attacks on soft targets,” and vowed to “reinforce and reinvigorate” the fight against the militant group. International support of the Multinational Joint Task Force, which is mandated to bring an end to the Boko Haram insurgency, may help on this front. However, the fight against the insurgency is unlikely to succeed without efforts being made to address underlying issues fueling the conflict, such as underdevelopment and abject poverty in the sub-region.
Nigeria is currently experiencing one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises, with over four million people, many of them displaced by Boko Haram violence, needing rations to survive. Yet, the funds required for tackling this crisis continue to outstrip available resources. As such, it is clear that the international community must do more to address the ongoing humanitarian crisis in the Lake Chad basin in order to alleviate human suffering and to avoid further destabilization in the region. Otherwise, the insecurity wrought by Boko Haram is sure to spread.
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