The Multi-National Joint Task Force of the Lake Chad Basin Commission has deployed troops after suspected Boko Haram terrorists attacked a northern Cameroonian village late Thursday night, killing at least 13 people and leaving hundreds homeless. Cameroon officials have been asking residents to collaborate with the military, fearing more attacks when Ramadan starts in early May.
The task force has troops from Cameroon, Nigeria, Chad and Niger.
Tchakarmari village, on Cameroon's northern border with Nigeria, is deserted, with torched houses and animal carcasses bearing witness to the attack.
Resident Abba Malloum says the village of more than 400 people was reduced to ashes by Boko Haram fighters who came from neighboring Nigeria late Thursday night.
Malloum says over a hundred Boko Haram fighters attacked the village, shooting indiscriminately and setting fire to all the houses houses. He says at least 13 people were shot to death or otherwise slaughtered, plus many wounded and about 100 men, women and children abducted. Their maize, beans, groundnuts and sheep burned as hundreds of their cattle were taken away.
Bachair Hachimi, Tchakarmari's traditional ruler, says the village had experienced relative peace for a year, following several attacks by the terror group. Residents who had fled had begun to come back. says even though dozens were killed in a series of suicide bombings, residents were determined to collaborate with the military in fighting Boko Haram.
But the fresh attack has scared almost everyone.
Hachimi says because of the attack, people who had started returning home after the military pushed back Boko Haram fighters and installed a base of the Multi-National Joint Task Force have again fled to the towns of Mora, Meme, Mokolo and Maroua. He says most of his people have lost everything they struggled to gather when peace returned to their village.
Midjiyawa Bakary, governor of Cameroon's Far North Region, has called for vigilance. He says after a crisis meeting of the Multinational Joint Task Force, troops have been deployed to secure the area and bring back the abducted people.
The task force has been instructed to organize regular patrols and systematic searches of people, vehicles and homes and suspected villages and towns.
This week, Cameroon authorities said they had detained 30 Nigerians who crossed the border Saturday on suspicion of links to Boko Haram Islamist militants.
Governor Bakary warned that Boko Haram was looking for opportunities to infiltrate when many people travel across the border for religious or national holidays. He called for extra caution around such times, including international Labor Day on May 1, the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan on May 5, and National Day on May 20. Bakary says the militants may strike as people gather around mosques and markets.
More than 1,500 Cameroonians have been killed in attacks by Boko Haram since the insurgency began nine years ago.