Amnesty International has accused authorities in Cameroon of committing numerous human rights abuses in their crackdown on militant group Boko Haram, including the killing of dozens of civilians, torture, and arbitrary mass arrests.
The human rights group said officials have detained more than 1,000 people in "horrific conditions," resulting in an average of eight deaths each month from malnutrition, disease and torture in Maroua Prison in the Far North region of the country.
"In seeking to protect its population from the brutality of Boko Haram, Cameroon is pursuing the right objective; but, in arbitrarily arresting, torturing and subjecting people to enforced disappearances, the authorities are using the wrong means," said Alioune Tine, the organization's director in west and central Africa.
Cameroonian officials criticized the report upon its release Thursday. Military spokesman Colonel Didier Badjeck said the country’s troops are well trained to do their jobs and do not abuse the rights of anyone.
Government spokesman Issa Tchiroma Bakary described the report as biased and said Amnesty has never raised concerns for the 2,000 Cameroonians he said have died in the Boko Haram war.
Amnesty is calling on the government to implement measures to end the alleged practices and allow detainees access to their families and to lawyers.
Amnesty said its report was based on interviews with more than 200 people between October 2015 and July 2016.
Boko Haram has killed an estimated 20,000 people since launching its insurgency in northeastern Nigeria in 2009. Fighting and violence have displaced more than 2.5 million people.
Since 2013, the group has expanded its attacks to Chad, Niger and Cameroon. Last year, it pledged allegiance to Islamic State.