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Cameroon Battles Terror Threats as School Year Begins


FILE - Security forces transport with a blanket the remains of some of the 11 victims of a double blast in the northern Cameroonian city of Maroua, July 22, 2015.

FILE - Security forces transport with a blanket the remains of some of the 11 victims of a double blast in the northern Cameroonian city of Maroua, July 22, 2015.

Cameroon said terrorism threats loom as millions of children return to school Monday after a three-month holiday.

The country has taken measures to make school campuses safe especially on its northern border with Nigeria, but many people prefer to leave the border zones with their children.

Sixteen-year-old Ahmidou Moussa is one of the millions of Cameroon students who go back to school Monday after the three-month holiday. But he says he can not return to classes in the Cameroonian town of Mora, on the border with Nigeria, because of suicide bombings.

Ahmidou says he was not really disturbed during the holiday period because his parents took him far away from the conflict-prone border zone to Cameroon's capital, Yaounde, which is safer.

Valentine Tameh, president of the Teachers Association of Cameroon says many teachers are also refusing to teach in localities along Cameroon's northern border with Nigeria.

"We are appealing to those who have been posted there that that is Cameroon," Tameh says. "You have to go there and do your work. But we are also and more loudly telling government that they have a moral duty to take care of (protect) those teachers there."

Police assurances

Ndzi Amos Tarla, of the communication unit of Cameroon's police, said he has been assuring students, teachers and parents that security has been increased on school campuses in border localities.

Tarla says if the population cooperates with authorities, the terrorists will find it difficult to operate.

"The very, very little ones must be accompanied to school especially those who are going to school for the first time," says Tarla, adding the children are being told not to take items or assistance from people they do not know.

"That is a moment, too, that kidnappers or people with intentions will take children ... like that and at the end they will be somewhere else. They must be taught to avoid bad company, they must be taught to make new friends with a lot of caution. Most of all if they notice anything, they should report immediately to the security officials they see," he adds.

Last year, Cameroon closed 70 schools on its northern border with Nigeria's Borno state.

More than a 100,000 students were relocated to new schools to keep them away from the insurgents that vowed to attack Cameroon for taking part in efforts to eradicate the terrorist group.

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