Saturday, July 26, 2014

Nigeria/Cameroon: Update--Next Target: Free 22 Boko Haram Fighters Held in Maroua

According to Reuters, Nigeria's Islamist militant group Boko Haram carried out two cross-border attacks into Cameroon since Friday (July 25), killing at least four soldiers and prompting the Cameroonian army to send reinforcements to the area, army sources said on Saturday (July 26).

Under pressure from neighboring Nigeria to do more to counter Islamist insurgents, Cameroon has deployed over 1,000 soldiers along its remote jungle border.

Nigeria believes Boko Haram wants to use Cameroon as a rear base as it strives to carve out an Islamic state. The group has killed thousands in its five-year insurgency and has recently bombed targets that were previously considered comparatively safe, such as Nigeria's commercial hub Lagos and capital Abuja. 

COMMENT: It seens logical to conclude that Boko Haram intends to mobilize an assault on Maroua to free the 22 Boko Haram fighters, as successfully doing so will be a major morale booster for the group, but a regional success as well.

Alternatively, Boko Haram may suggest a prisoner exchange.
Cameroonian regional military commander Colonel Felix Nji Formekong confirmed to REUTERS by telephone that four soldiers had been killed in clashes with Boko Haram fighters at the village of Bargaram, without giving further detail.

A soldier based in the area who requested anonymity as he is not authorized to speak to the media said another 13 of his comrades were missing after the attack, which took place late at night. 

The soldier said that Boko Haram had attacked again in the night from Friday to Saturday but that the Cameroonian army had succeeded in pushing them back.

The attack at Bargaram came barely two weeks after Boko Haram attacked the same locality, kidnapping a 20-year old civilian.

Meanwhile, some 22 suspected Boko Haram militants who were held in Maroua since March 2014, were on Friday (July 25) sentenced to prison sentences ranging from 10 to 20 years.

According to the regional state radio station CRTV in Maroua, they were found guilty of illegal possession of firearms and plotting a regional insurrection.