News / Africa

Cameroon Villages Fear Boko Haram Infiltration

Man claiming to be leader of Nigerian Islamist extremist group Boko Haram, Abubakar Shekau, in video screengrab, unknown location, Sept. 25, 2013.
Man claiming to be leader of Nigerian Islamist extremist group Boko Haram, Abubakar Shekau, in video screengrab, unknown location, Sept. 25, 2013.
There is growing concern in Cameroon that the Nigerian extremist group Boko Haram is infiltrating villages along the border.  The arrest of 18 suspected members of the group has sparked wide criticism that the army is focused only on northern part of the country, and is ignoring other parts of Cameroon's long, winding border with Nigeria. 

Inhabitants of Sabongari, a small Cameroonian village that borders Nigeria's Taraba state, told VOA that they have been seeing strange faces in their village in the past two weeks.  The sightings began when Cameroon deployed troops to the north to patrol against Boko Haram.

Schoolteacher Nfor John said their local vigilante group arrested some people pretending to be food merchants and handed them to local authorities.

"People were caught moving down from this part of the country, transporting food stuff with some munitions.  I mean, this is enough sign to make the government sit up.  These are very dangerous signs for the authorities," said John.

Witnesses began reporting possible Boko Haram activity in northern Cameroon last year, as Nigeria's military launched an offensive aimed at crushing the Islamist militant group.

Tawe Cletus, a trader at Abongshe, another village on the border with Taraba, said the porousness of the border and the departure of the military to North Cameroon has exposed them to Boko Haram.

"There are other parts of the country that share a common border with Nigeria which the government is letting loose.  And if Boko Haram sees that the government is paying attention to a particular region, they can infiltrate.  The enemy who does not want you to identify him, of course, will use any means to infiltrate," Cletus stated.

Ngalla Elvis, who lives in the village of Loor, said local residents are scared the government has left them unprotected. "We are afraid.  Ndonga Mantung people are afraid of Boko Haram.  Cameroon government is supposed to be more pre-emptive and proactive than being reactive.  They are deploying 3,000 soldiers to the north where Boko Haram has indicated its presence and forgetting about the other borders where Boko Haram has not yet signaled.  I am talking about physical presence of military officers with ammunition that can actually demonstrate to the Boko Haram people that we are present," said Elvis.

Government official Ayeni Derek was dispatched by Cameroon's government to reassure citizens, told VOA that measures are being taken to protect the villages.  He said the government is also reminding people to help by pointing out any suspicious activity.

"They move around the churches to sensitize [educate] the population to know that they are the first to give information for government to use to counteract what the Boko Haram is doing.  Put it up to the administration that I am seeing this strange face and then the administration is going to take the necessary steps," said Derek.

Preventing infiltration by Boko Haram will be a difficult task.  Cameroon shares a boundary of close to 1,800 kilometers with Nigeria, and less than 50 percent of it is currently being guarded by armed forces.

You May Like

Video Americans, Tourists, Reflect on Meaning of Thanksgiving

VOA garnered opinions from several people soon after November 13 Paris attacks, which colored many of their thoughts

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

In northern Thailand, the annual tradition of constructing floating baskets to carry away the year’s bad spirits highlights the Loy Krathong festival

Video Tree Houses - A Branch of American Dream

Workshops aimed at teaching people how to build tree houses have become widely popular in America in recent years

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: meh Timothy chu from: Esu
June 23, 2014 6:20 AM
I wish the high authorities in Cameroon really see into this matter because named Cameroon border villages not fotgeting Esu ,are exposed to danger. Some forces especially the Next. B. I. Rs should be deployed to these areas and not only the north part of the country.

by: Samuel mangege from: Mutengene
June 08, 2014 3:14 AM
In case you don't know there is an open passage for boko harram in henary a small village near Atta . Please check that area its remote area .

by: Kenneth Nde from: Bamenda, Cameroon
June 06, 2014 10:50 PM
It is time for the government to act by deploying troops.
The complains of the masses should be enough for the government to atleast deploy a defensive army in these regions.
The militant group is always swift enough to take advantage of slow reaction of the government.

by: Petech from: Blantyre Malawi
June 05, 2014 5:03 PM
So sad that Boko Haram is still killing the innocent people up to date.

By the Numbers

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continuesi
Ayesha Tanzeem
November 25, 2015 10:46 PM
One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs