Cameroon says the Nigerian Islamic sect Boko Haram is suspected in an attack on one of its markets near Kousseri - with at least one soldier killed. A similar attack occurred March 9 in the same area. The latest incident also provoked panic in a convoy of guarded Chadian refugees who had fled sectarian violence in the Central African Republic.
Residents say the attackers entered Cameroon through the porous borders and shot at soldiers Thursday in a market near Kousseri, a town close to Cameroon's borders with Nigeria and Chad.
Major attacks blamed on Nigeria's Boko Haram
July - Attacks prompt government crackdown in Bauchi and Maiduguri; 800 people killed
December - Bombings in central Nigeria and church attacks in the northeast kill 86
June - Attack on a bar in Maiduguri kills 25
August - Suicide bomber kills 23 at U.N. building in Abuja
November - Bombings in Damaturu and Potiskum kill 65
December - Christmas Day bombings across Nigeria kill 39
January -- Gun and bomb attacks in Kano kill up to 200
February - Maiduguri market attack kills 30
June - Suicide car bombings at three churches kill 21
July - Attacks in Plateau state kill dozens, including two politicians at a funeral for the victims
February - French family kidnapped in Cameroon, held hostage for two months
April - Fighting with troops in Baga kills up to 200; residents say troops set deadly fires
May - Attacks in Bama kill more than 50
July - Gunmen kill 30 at a school in Yobe
August - Gunmen kill 44 at a mosque outside Maiduguri
September - Gunmen kill 40 students a dorm in Yobe
October - Attack Yobe state capital Damaturu, clash with military in Borno state
“Two Boko Haram people came to the market on a motorcycle in broad day light,” eyewitness Mahamat Djibril, a businessman, told VOA. He said he thinks they shot and killed several soldiers.
The governor of the Far North Region, Awah Fonka Augustin, also said he thought Boko Haram was involved.
"There was a confrontation between Boko Haram and soldiers that were present,” he said. The governor says the town has returned to normal and he called on the population to be calm, saying the military is there to protect their safety.
Minister of Communications Issa Tchiroma Bakari said the attack was the work of foreign insurgents from a bordering country that is experiencing what he called a “religious crisis." But he did not specifically name Boko Haram.
He called on nearby countries to respect Cameroon’s peaceful position.
He said Cameroon is a country where priests and imams meet for ecumenical church services and this is an asset.
Boko Haram says it is fighting to create a strict Islamic state in the mainly Muslim north of Nigeria. The shadowy group is blamed for thousands of deaths since 2009.
Cameroon is caught in between Nigeria’s violence-plagued north and the sectarian conflict engulfing its eastern neighbor, the Central African Republic.
The shooting incident near Kousseri created panic among some 300 Chadians who fled the C.A.R. and were passing through Cameroon on their way back home.
Said Abdoul was in the convoy. He tells VOA the Chadians they are afraid to continue their journey from the town of Ngaoundere.
“It is dangerous to leave Ngaoundere” he said, “because we hear that Boko Haram groups are around and can kill us.”
Last year Boko Haram kidnapped a French family and a priest in northern Cameroon.
Concerns have recently surfaced that Boko Haram may be using neighboring nations as safe havens from which to launch attacks.
Earlier this month, Cameroon strongly denied it was allowing its territory to be used as a training ground for terrorist groups, including Boko Haram.