Seven people were killed and 21 children and young adults were kidnapped in yet another spree of devastating Boko Haram attacks on mainly-Christian villages in Far North Cameroon in December.
The murderous rampage in Mayo Sava district began on 1 December, just a month after a spate of similar attacks. Gunmen opened fire on mourners gathered at a funeral in Kotserehé, forcing them to flee in all directions. An eyewitness said, “It was a total rout … women have fled without being able to take their children with them.”
The attack left four dead and three wounded. The witness added, “A place of mourning has turned into a theatre of war that has ended in carnage.”
The following night, three people were murdered and another wounded when a large number of armed militants swarmed Zangola village. The extremists looted homes, stealing food and clothing as the villagers fled for their lives.
A Barnabas contact said, “Helpless before the terrorists, the people had only their eyes to cry.” The army arrived but their attempt to pursue the marauders was unsuccessful.
In another attack, also on 1 December, the militants caused major damage in Yagoua village, ransacking eleven homes, stripping them of food and basic items.
The village of Mbreche was next to be attacked. At around 2 a.m. on 5 December, the militants searched from house to house and kidnapped 21 young people – nine were girls and twelve boys. The youngest were three girls and a boy, all aged twelve, and the oldest two young men aged 21. Four of the young people, including a girl aged 13, managed to escape.
As the armed gang fled, they attacked the village of Tahert, injuring a young girl and stealing a motorbike. It is thought that those abducted will be forced to become Boko Haram “soldiers” and fight on behalf of the extremists.
On 19 November, a Christian boy, twelve, was hacked to death for resisting militants’ attempt to abduct him as a “child soldier” in Tourou district.
A Barnabas contact said that the Cameroon army has a very difficult task in combatting Boko Haram because the area is so vast and dotted with small, isolated villages linked by poor roads. The militants strike and then escape swiftly via the well-maintained main roads back to their base in Nigeria.
Barnabas Fund, barnabasfund.org