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Cameroon has said it is recruiting 20,000 more defence and security forces to fight Boko Haram following reports that the terrorist group, based in Nigeria, is recruiting young Cameroonians to fight for them.
This is just as nine persons were killed, including two suicide bombers, as multiple bomb explosions rocked Yobe and Gombe states on the eve and new year day, while 10 others were injured.
Senator Haman Paul, who hails from northern Cameroon, told VOA about Boko Haram’s recruitment of young Cameroonians to fight for the creation of an Islamist caliphate in northern Nigeria.
“That was something that we witnessed in Maroua (in northern Cameroon). People told us that they found people in town that were not actually people they were used to. When we found that one part of the country is in a very delicate situation, it is better to manage prevention instead of consequences,” said Paul.
Another lawmaker from northern Cameroon, Sali Dairou, said that just last week Boko Haram seized cattle from Cameroonian ranchers who lived along the border with Nigeria’s Borno and Adamawa states, adding that the ranchers have lost thousands of cattle.
Dairou said the militants also killed some of the cattle ranchers, while thousands of their cows went into the wild. He said this was a huge loss, adding that no rancher has the courage to go to the boundary with Nigeria to bring back his remaining cattle.
Cameroon’s Minister of Territorial Administration, Rene Emmanuel Sadi, said the threat posed by Boko Haram had led many people from the border areas to flee.
He said northern Cameroon was the hardest hit as many schools have remained closed and people are abandoning their farms and cattle.
Sadi said Boko Haram has paralyzed trade between Cameroon and Nigeria that has supplied 80 per cent of foodstuff and basic necessities to northern Cameroon since the two countries gained independence more than five decades ago.
Cameroon’s Defence Minister, Edgard Alain Mebe Ngo’o, said besides the economic hardship, atrocities committed by the militant group have led to a massive movement of more than 30,000 villagers to areas of the country away from the border.
He said fear gripped the people when Boko Haram started arresting and publicly killing religious leaders and chiefs who collaborate with the government of Cameroon in some villages that neighbour Nigeria’s Borno state.
Regarding the recent Gombe suicide bomber, another eyewitness, Dahiru Badamasi who lives in the neighbourhood said the suicide bomber arrived during the service at the Evangelical Church of West Africa in Gombe and refused to park his motorcycle outside a security barrier set up by volunteers.
“He insisted on riding through the barrier. It was while he was arguing with the volunteers that his suicide belt exploded.”
Another witness, Jummai Maifada said he heard an explosion and rushed outside.
“I saw a man leading three children with their new dresses stained with blood,” he said
Malam Abdullahi Isah, the Secretary, Gombe Specialist Hospital, said 10 injured persons were brought to the hospital.
According to him, the victims sustained various injuries and were undergoing a treatment, adding that one of them was taken to the theatre.
Gombe, has until recently been spared the violence that has shaken the neighbouring states of Yobe, Borno and Adamawa, where Boko Haram has taken around 20 towns.
On Wednesday a female suicide bomber was killed as she tried to enter a military barracks in Gombe.
Seven others died in a bus explosion Wednesday in a village close to Potiskum, in Yobe state.
President Goodluck Jonathan, had, Thursday, promised to re-equip and re-position the armed forces “to enhance their capacity to win the ongoing war against terror and insurgency.”
He said:“We will bring justice to the savage terrorists known as Boko Haram. They will be defeated. We will not forget. We will not look the other way.”
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