Accessibility links

Breaking News

Cameroon military frees 300 Boko Haram captives along northern border  

Cameroon’s military has moved over 300 civilians rescued from Boko Haram terrorist captivity along the central African states border with Nigeria and Chad this week to a northern Cameroon military post. The country's army says scores of militants of the Nigeria-based insurgent group were neutralized in a border operation called Alpha.

Oumar Fatime, 37, tells Cameroon military and senior government officials that she was a successful vegetable farmer in Ngouboua village, until April 17 when heavily armed Boko Haram fighters abducted her and three of her family members.

Ngouboua is a village in Chad located near the northeastern shore of Lake Chad, a water body shared by Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad and Niger.

Fatime said the abductors took her and several dozen civilians to a bush area near Lake Chad and threatened to kill them if their families failed to pay ransom.

Fatime is one of over 300 civilians Cameroon’s military says were rescued from Boko Haram captivity in several villages along the central African states border with Chad and Nigeria within the past seven days.

Cameroon state TV showed video of the rescued civilians brought in military trucks to a military camp in Dabanga district near the border with Chad and Nigeria Monday.

The Cameroon military said most of the freed hostages are women and children. About 200 government troops carried out the rescue operation, the Cameroon military said.

Midjiyawa Bakari is the governor of Cameroon’s Far North region that shares a border with Chad and Nigeria.

Bakari says Cameroon President Paul Biya dispatched him to Dabanga Monday to congratulate the troops that carried out the very successful rescue operation called Alpha. He says government troops seized several hundred weapons including rifles and explosives along with motorcycles and bicycles militants were using to attack communities and kidnap civilians for ransom.

Cameroon’s military says it was assisted in assaults on some Boko Haram strongholds in border localities by government troops from Chad and Nigeria. Scores of militants were killed and several dozens wounded in the operation that lasted one week according to Cameroon officials. Cameroon says militants who surrendered are helping troops in investigations but gave no further details.

VOA could not independently verify if Cameroon carried out joint border military operations with troops from Nigeria and Chad. But in April troops from Chad and Cameroon said they freed scores of civilians who were kidnapped for ransom or to fight with jihadist groups on both sides of the two central African states’ border.

Cameroon says it is in negotiations with its neighbors to allow the rescued civilians who are Chadians and Nigerians to return to their countries voluntarily. Cameroon military says while waiting, the freed hostages will be taken to the center for Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration, or DDR, in Meri, a northern town near the border with Chad and Nigeria but did not say when.

Cameroon, Chad and Nigeria report that Boko Haram militants have been returning to towns and villages where government troops had withdrawn after claiming that fighters' firepower had greatly reduced, indicating a return to peace. The three countries say Boko Haram is recruiting new militants and attacking villages for supplies.

At least 36,000 people have been killed and 3 million have fled their homes since 2009, when fighting between Nigerian government troops and Boko Haram militants spread to Cameroon, Niger and Chad according to the United Nations.