Friday, October 17, 2014 11:34 pm
Cameroon said Friday its army killed 107 Boko Haram fighters, while a police officer told AFP at least 30 civilians were murdered by the Islamist guerrilla group before the ambush.
The combat occurred Wednesday and Thursday after militants from the Nigeria-based Boko Haram drove into the border towns of Amchide and Limani, Cameroon’s defence ministry said in a statement read on state radio.
Officials said eight Cameroonian soldiers died in the battle, which the ministry called “fighting of rare violence”.
It was not possible to independently verify the information or the toll.
Boko Haram rebels, who have been waging attacks in northern Nigeria and who kidnapped more than 200 school girls in April, frequently cross into neighbouring Cameroon.
A police officer speaking to AFP on condition of anonymity said that before the military confronted them, the Boko Haram fighters “cut the throats of many civilians, 30 at least”.
The manager of a money transfer agency was among the murdered, he said, and a Catholic church, a Protestant church and several bars were burnt.
“They wanted to attack the camp” where elite soldiers were garrisoned “with a booby-trapped car, but the soldiers were one step ahead of them and destroyed it,” the police officer said.
A security guard in Amchide at the time of the attack confirmed the officer’s information.
“The Boko Haram fighters killed many people in town. They cut the throats of my neighbours. They killed the Express Union manager and two security guards in his shop. They burned the churches and a mosque,” he said.
“The army told us to leave town, so we did,” he added.
The defence ministry made no mention of civilian deaths in its statement.
It said that the heavily armed Boko Haram members were travelling in armoured vehicles that crossed over from Nigeria.
The fierce fighting started late Wednesday and after a pause resumed on Thursday, ending with Boko Haram fleeing back over the border, according to the ministry.
A tank, a pick-up truck and a Peugeot car packed with ammunition and explosives were destroyed by the soldiers, it added.
“Several light and heavy arms were seized,” the ministry said.
“Calm has returned and our defence forces are in control of the border areas”.
Cameroon shares a border of more than 2,000 kilometres (1,200 miles) with Nigeria, where Boko Haram has been waging a bloody insurgency since 2009 in which 10,000 people have died.