YAOUNDE, CAMEROON —
Cameroon soldiers have seized weapons and arrested Muslim Seleka rebels from the Central African Republic who have been hiding in Cameroon. Cameroon’s border region has attracted the rebels who began fleeing CAR after French and African Union reinforcements arrived to restore some semblance of order in early December.
Terrified villagers of Kette in Cameroon's East region say they awoke to the sound of artillery in the early hours of Sunday, when soldiers closed in on a gold quarry that had been seized by Seleka rebels on the Cameroon side of the border.
The governor of Cameroon’s East region, Ivaha Diboua Samuel Dieudonne, told VOA that the military seized an impressive quantity of weapons. He said he welcomed the military action against Seleka rebels.
“Rebels that are living in Central Africa in the bush come to our territory armed here and there [and] create a kind of panic and so on,” said Dieudonne.
Cameroon's defense minister, Edgard Alain Mebe Ngo’o, visited Kette Monday to assure villagers of their security.
He said the priority given to the East region by the defense and security forces means that there will be little to fear going forward.
The operation comes less than a week after Cameroon deployed its elite Rapid Intervention Battalion (BIR) to the East region to halt CAR rebel efforts to set up up training bases in Cameroon.
Cameroonians have been subjected to various attacks since Seleka rebels took power in neighboring CAR in March. Cameroon closed its border with CAR in August.
The situation has steadily worsened as political instability turned into a sectarian conflict, however, prompting the international community to send in troops to disarm various rebel and militia groups in CAR.