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Rights Group: Boko Haram, Cameroon Security Carrying Out Abuses


FILE - Cameroon soldiers stand guard at a lookout post as they take part in operations against the Islamic extremists group Boko Haram, their guard post is on Elbeid bridge, left rear, that separates northern Cameroon form Nigeria's Borno state.

FILE - Cameroon soldiers stand guard at a lookout post as they take part in operations against the Islamic extremists group Boko Haram, their guard post is on Elbeid bridge, left rear, that separates northern Cameroon form Nigeria's Borno state.

Rights group Amnesty International condemned alleged abuses by both Boko Haram and Cameroonian security forces in a report released Wednesday. The Nigerian militant sect stepped up attacks in northern Cameroon last year, prompting Cameroonian troops to join a regional offensive.

Amnesty International's researcher for Central Africa, Ilaria Allegrozzi, says both Boko Haram insurgents and Cameroonian soldiers fighting terrorism have caused great suffering.

"We talk about killings. We talk about kidnappings. We talk about destruction, widespread destruction of public and private properties," said Allegrozzi.

Amnesty says Boko Haram has killed nearly 380 people in northern Cameroon since mid-2014. Militants have also burned hundreds of homes.

FILE - People who fled their homes due to violence from the Islamic extremists group Boko Haram are seen inside a refugee camp in Minawao, Cameroon, Feb. 25, 2015.

FILE - People who fled their homes due to violence from the Islamic extremists group Boko Haram are seen inside a refugee camp in Minawao, Cameroon, Feb. 25, 2015.

Allegrozzi says although security forces have played a very important role protecting civilians, they are at the same time also committing abuses.

"There are killings and destruction of properties, arbitrary arrests and also inhumane prison conditions especially in Maroua where you have a population of 1,300 prisoners. Half of them are suspected Boko Haram. They live in very difficult conditions," she said. "The prison is overcrowded. There is lack of hygiene, lack of health care and some of the prisoners are even held in chains until today."

Amnesty says 130 men and boys have disappeared at the hands of Cameroonian soldiers and 25 have died in custody.

The rights group is calling for international investigations.

Cameroon's government spokesman declined to comment on the report Wednesday, saying authorities are preparing their response.

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