Nigeria’s neighbours are intensifying their anti-terrorist measures and continue their campaign against Boko Haram Islamist sect. In particular, Cameroonian armed forces are currently battling the insurgents in a remote region in the north of the country, Huffingtonpost Quebec reports.
* Nigeria-Cameroon border. Amchide border town.
Boko Haram members use the city of Amchide as their transfer point. The closest Nigerian town to Amchide is Banki. According to a local police source, only one out of ten people in the area are peaceful residents. Others are either sect members, or sect sympathisers.
A regional commander of Cameroon’s elite army unit deployed in the area, Lieutenant-Colonel Thierry Foumane, described the settlement as “Boko Haram’s local fiefdom”.
* Nigeria territory begins right after this sign.
Cameroon-Nigeria border in this place is marked just by a simple iron bar and a sign with inscription the “Federal Republic of Nigeria”.
The officer also noted that there is no clear separation between two countries in this place. For example, there is a house which has its living room in Cameroon, while other part of it remains on the territory of Nigeria.
Col. Foumane revealed that anti-terrorist operations are incredibly complex, because Boko Haram has infiltrated families there. In fact, in the same family one may find both Boko Haram members and peaceful and honest people.
An experienced police officer, who has spoken to HuffPost journalist on condition of anonymity, said that the current situation makes it easy for extremists to work their way into Amchide. Their arsenal includes such ruthless means as blackmail, beatings and other kinds of intimidation.
The source has also confirmed that sect members convince the strongest and fearful teenage boys and young men in joining them.
The veteran policeman added that Boko Haram members have forced businesses to “finance their activities”, established beneficial alliances with some traders and suppliers.
Another disturbing fact is that the Cameroonian city of Amchide turned into hub for trafficking if weapons, goods, money and even people. It is also a strategic place for launching attacks on Borno State.
* Cameroon troops on a mission.
Cameroon has been also suffering from presence of the sect since 2009, deployed elite battalion in the border area to tackle the insurgency. The officer informed that the security operatives are “cleaning up” Amchide and the wave of arrests will not stop.
The local people have controversial stance on the military operation. Many of them support it.
However, the soldiers’ mission in the area is far from being over, as they are under endless harassment by Boko Haram members.
It would be recalled that Cameroon has joined Nigeria, Benin, Chad and Niger in the effort to eliminate Boko Haram threat since the April kidnapping of more than 200 GGSS Chibok schoolgirls, which sparked international outrage.
The insurgents 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.