YAOUNDE, CAMEROON —
Cameroon says Boko Haram has resorted to kidnapping people in hard-to-access areas near the border with Nigeria. But the Central African nation has rejected calls by lawmakers to declare a state of emergency in the affected areas.
Cameroon Defense Minister Edgard Alain Mebe Ngo'o told parliament that while the Nigerian terrorist group still is committing atrocities, its militants have not been able to organize a major attack on Cameroon's territory for more than two months
He said he has visited villages in northern Cameroon, telling local officials and traditional leaders that though Boko Haram continues its small-scale attacks – kidnapping, taking hostges and killing – it's now too weak to stage major raids.
Mebe Ngo'o acknowledged that though the attacks have persisted, Cameroon's President Paul Biya decided against declaring a state of emergency in the remote areas where Boko Haram has been operating.
Joseph Mbah Ndam, vice president of Cameroon's national assembly, called for officials to investigate the source of weapons he said were proliferating in the area.
He said he'd seen Cameroon security people pick up spent bullet casings. "From those shells, we can determine in whose hands those bullets are from," Ndam said. "Why would you not supply us with concrete security information?"
This week, Cameroon said suspected Boko Haram fighters have been seizing food and livestock from farmers and cattle ranchers on its northern border with Nigeria, and most of the food producers were relocating to safer areas.
Earlier this year, Boko Haram led major attacks on Cameroonian territory. On January 10, some 300 of its fighters attacked a military base in the northeast town of Fotokol; the confrontation with soldiers left 500 dead. In early February, the militants fatally shot or burned to death about 90 civilians from that area, the Associated Press reported, citing Cameroon authorities. Government troops reportedly killed hundreds of the militants, who also used civilians as human shields. Thirteen Chadian and six Cameroonian troops were killed in the response.