Accessibility links

Breaking News

24 Boko Haram Hostages Freed in Cameroon


At least 24 hostages kidnapped by Boko Haram militants on Sunday in Cameroon had been freed by Monday, according to a Cameroon defense ministry spokesman and media reports.

Officials in Cameroon said the militants kidnapped at least 60 people, including children, in a cross-border raid from Nigeria, around the village of Mabass in northern Cameroon.

Defense Ministry spokesman Colonel Didier Badjeck said that, though the group still is holding 30 to 60 people, the Cameroon army was able to free two dozen of the hostages.

"They were freed as defense forces pursued the attackers who were heading back to Nigeria," Badjeck said.

Cameroon's national radio and television confirmed the hostages' reported release but did not provide any details.

Officials said several people who tried to stop the militants were killed and about 80 homes were burned to the ground.

It was one of the largest abductions in Cameroon. Fears are mounting that the Islamist group is expanding its operations into neighboring countries.

Barbaric, lawless group

Cameroon's Information Minister Issa Tchiroma Bakary called the kidnappers barbaric and lawless and said nothing can stop them from killing.

On Saturday, Chad had sent thousands of troops into Cameroon to help fight Boko Haram, the Nigerian Islamic militant group that African officials said is quickly becoming a threat to the entire region.

Early on Sunday, a suicide bombing at a bus station in the northeast Nigerian city of Potiskum killed four people and wounded at least 25 others. There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but suspicion fell on Boko Haram.

Gunmen believed to be from Boko Haram on Sunday attacked the Nigerian town of Gombi, where residents said the militants exchanged fire with soldiers stationed there.

Late last year, security forces and vigilantes pushed the militants from Gombi and the nearby towns of Mubi and Hong.

P.P. Elesha, a spokesman for Adawama state Governor Bala James Ngillari, confirmed the attack to VOA's Hausa service and said the governor assured residents everything possible is being done to restore normalcy.

Adawama is one of three northeastern Nigerian states where President Goodluck Jonathan declared a state of emergency in May 2013 as part of an effort to battle Boko Haram.

Boko Haram has been seizing territory along the border between Nigeria and Chad. It recently took control of a military base near the shores of Lake Chad, killing a number of villagers.

The group's rise has become a central issue in Nigeria's presidential election, with many Nigerians believing Jonathan has not done enough to stop the militants. The president is running for re-election, with the vote scheduled for February 14.

Brutal raids, massacres, suicide bomb attacks and kidnappings by the Islamist group have claimed at least 13,000 lives and driven an estimated 1.5 million people from their homes, mainly in its stronghold in northeast Nigeria.

Some material for this report came from Reuters and AFP.

  • 16x9 Image

    VOA News

    The Voice of America provides news and information in more than 40 languages to an estimated weekly audience of over 326 million people. Stories with the VOA News byline are the work of multiple VOA journalists and may contain information from wire service reports.