Government officials in Cameroon say the country's military has stopped an attempt by suspected Boko Haram militants to seize a military base at Kolofata, on the border with Nigeria's Borno state.
Cameroon's Minister of Communication, Issa Tchiroma Bakari, has told state radio that hundreds of suspected Boko Haram fighters attacked the Cameroonian military base at Kolofata. He quotes Cameroonian Defense Minister Mebe Ngo'o as saying at least 143 of the attackers were killed, with others retreating to surrounding villages.
"Taking advantage of a particularly heavy cloud in this period of the year, the assailants who were hundreds of them made it up to the border and tried to surprise our defense forces and fierce fighting started. During more than 5 hours near the military camp and other strategic points of the locality, our defense forces succeeded in neutralizing the attackers on the first front line by systematic bombing of their positions resulting in the set back of the assailants towards the border with Nigeria," said Bakari.
Defense Minister Ngo'o said his military's response to the attack was swift.
He said the soldiers are more than determined than ever to fight Boko Haram where ever they attack in northern Cameroon. The military has the support of all the Cameroonian people, he added.
Abdoulaziz Moustapha, a municipal Councillor in Kolofata, said in a telephone interview that there were at least 400 of the assailants in their locality.
He said three Cameroonians were seriously wounded while one soldier was shot dead on the spot. Many assailants were killed, but he did not know the exact number.
Ousmaila Mallam, a Kolofata resident, also confirmed in a telephone interview that he saw the corpse of a Cameroonian soldier and counted at least 10 wounded soldiers who were being rushed to the hospital for treatment. He said civilians in addition to Boko Haram fighters were killed in the shooting before the invaders retreated to surrounding villages, where they are taking cover amidst local villagers.
He said many people invaded the base. They tried hard to seize it but did not succeed.
The spokesperson of Cameroon's military, Colonel Didier Badjeck, said he does not understand how Boko Haram continues to get weapons after incurring heavy damage from Cameroon's military since the border war started in May of last year.
He said there are many issues concerning Boko Haram that they still don't understand, such as how they continue to be resilient despite the enormous damage they have suffered.
Last week, Cameroon President Paul Biya called for international support and a coordinated response against Boko Haram.
President Biya said the African Union and other international organizations should have proposed a global response to this global terrorism threat, insisting that the distance that separated a country from the conflict zone was not a sign of safety.