YAOUNDE, CAMEROON —
Suspected Boko Haram militants have kidnapped two teenaged children of one of Cameroon's most influential Muslim spiritual leaders.
The abduction occurred in the town of Limani, on the border with Nigeria's Borno state, which is the home base of the Islamist group.
Cameroon's State Radio announced that 10 heavily armed men crossed over from neighboring Nigeria's Borno State, and ransacked the home of Bieshair Mohaman, the traditional ruler of Limani.
The Muslim spiritual leader was not home at the time of the attack. But the assailants left with two of the cleric's sons, Bieshair Hashimir and Bieshair Cavaye Yegue, both teenage students at the Government Bilingual High School in Limani.
Eyewitnesses said the assailants expressed displeasure with the cleric because he had refused to cooperate with them, and they accused him of giving information concerning their activities to Cameroon's military.
A schoolmate of the teenagers, who was on holiday in Yaounde, said the attacks prove Cameroonians in the north of the country are not safe from Boko Haram.
"What the Boko Haram are doing is not good," Oumarou Ahmadou Mua said. "I feel very bad. I am asking the government to reinforce security, to do something very fast. If not, I think the Boko Haram will kidnap many more children. They [the government] have to do something."
Cameroonians have called on their government to make sure the kidnappers return these latest victims.
A government spokesperson urged all Cameroonians to cooperate with the military in the search for the children.
"I call on you fellow citizens, be it elite, traditional rulers, peasants, motorcycle drivers, taxi drivers," said Issa Tchiroma Bakari, "to watch out and accompany our administrative authorities and defense forces in bringing them the collaboration they need in terms of information, intelligence or denunciation and help them to successfully conduct the mission assigned them."
This is the first reported kidnapping of Cameroonians by the Nigerian Islamist group.
Boko Haram militants have so far kidnapped 10 Chinese road construction engineers, seven French tourists and three Catholic missionaries, in addition to 200 teenage Nigerian school girls.
Each time they have asked for ransom payments before their captives are freed.