YAOUNDE - The United States has given Cameroon two military aircraft to assist in the fight against Boko Haram militants. It adds to armored vehicles, U.S.-led training on landmine detection and the presence of U.S. Marines in the country.
This is the sound of one of the two planes donated by the U.S. taking off from the military air base in Yaounde on a reconnaissance flight Friday. On board are Cameroon defense minister Joseph Beti Assomo and the U.S. Ambassador to Cameroon Peter Henry Barlerin.
The two planes, according to Joseph Beti Assomo, are specialized in intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance. Each of the C208 aircraft possess inbuilt cameras that could capture images from the ground for up to 10 kilometers away.
Joseph Beti Assomo says he is particularly grateful because pilots and other crew members of the aircraft have been trained by the U.S. and the maintenance of the equipment will be assured for two years by the United States.
He says Cameroon is very grateful to the people of America who have not relented in helping its military to combat Boko Haram terrorism. He says his country's military will use the aircraft to protect not only its citizens and national territory from Boko Haram atrocities, but will also join troops of the Lake Chad Basin Commission to free Nigeria, Chad and Niger from the pain inflicted on them by terrorists.
The United States has been supporting Cameroon its fight against Boko Haram. In 2015, it handed a consignment of U.S. military equipment to Central African nations that deployed a regional military force to counter Boko Haram's insurgency in Nigeria, Niger, Cameroon and Chad.
That year the United States had declared Boko Haram a foreign terrorist organization and placed a $7 million bounty on the terror group leader Shekau to help bring him to justice.
In 2016, the United States trained the Cameroon military in detecting and counteracting landmines and explosive devices when the increasing use of landmines and suicide bombings by Boko Haram militants was reported.
In October 2015 and as part of an effort to assist the central African state and other regional governments in their efforts to battle extremist groups, the United States deployed approximately 90 troops to Cameroon to provide airborne intelligence, surveillance and other reconnaissance operations at the request and invitation of the Cameroonian government.
The U.N. refugee agency estimates approximately 26 million people in the Lake Chad region have been affected by the Boko Haram violence, and more than 2.6 million displaced in the conflict that has entered its 9th year.