Cameroon sent additional soldiers to the north after the government said it suspects Boko Haram kidnapped the wife of Deputy Premier Amadou Ali, the highest profile attack by the Islamist militants outside Nigeria.
Gunmen attacked Ali’s home and killed an unknown number of people and abducted Agnes Francoise Ali and others, Minister of Communications Issa Tchiroma said by phone in Yaounde yesterday.
“Since May, Cameroon has moved from quiet containment of Boko Haram to active confrontation with the group,” Freedom Onuoha, a research fellow at the National Defence College in Abuja, said by phone yesterday. “I don’t expect them to kill such a high-value target, but rather to rake in enough money to help fund their operations.”
Boko Haram has been fighting security forces in neighboring Nigeria for the past five years to impose Islamic law on Africa’s biggest economy and oil producer. The group claimed responsibility for the worst bombing in Nigeria’s capital in April and has killed more than 2,500 people in the first half of the year.
President Paul Biya sent more than 1,000 troops to the border with Nigeria as Boko Haram intensified cross-border attacks in to Cameroon this year. Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad and Niger agreed to set up a joint force to patrol the border areas, as the Islamists continue to expand their reach in the region, at a May conference in Paris.
In April, the group abducted more than 200 schoolgirls from Chibok, a Nigerian town in the northeastern state of Borno, close to the border with Cameroon. The group’s name means “western education is a sin” in the Hausa language. Most of the schoolgirls are still missing.