Nigeria’s Boko Haram Islamists have killed nearly 1,200 people in neighbouring Cameroon’s far north since 2013, the communications minister in Yaounde said Friday.
Issa Tchiroma Bakary told reporters that the group had staged 315 raids in the border region during this period and carried out 32 suicide bombings.
“In total, 1,098 civilians, 67 of our soldiers and three police officials have been killed in these barbaric attacks by the Boko Haram terrorist group,” Bakary said.
Since July last year, Cameroon’s far north has been hit by a series of attacks blamed on Boko Haram, which has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group.
This year, the number of attacks in the region has increased to a near daily basis with simultaneous incursions in some areas.
“In the face of such unjustified and gratuitous harassment our defence and security forces have inflicted heavy losses on the enemy,” he said, adding that the group had been so weakened that it was now taking recourse to bomb attacks, often staged by women or girls.
Since late November, the Cameroon army has carried out operations in several border areas aimed at weakening Nigerian jihadists active in the region.
Boko Haram in the past year stepped up cross-border attacks in Niger, Chad and Cameroon while continuing shooting and suicide assaults on markets, mosques and other mostly civilian targets within Nigeria itself.
The group has increasingly targeted imams and traditional chiefs for their opposition to the Islamists.
Cameroon has meanwhile banned the Islamic veil in a bid to pre-empt suicide bombings staged by attackers wearing the full-face veil.
Boko Haram’s six-year campaign for a hardline Islamic state in northeast Nigeria has killed at least 17,000 people and made more than 2.6 million others homeless.
Despite the offensives launched by regional forces, the group maintains strongholds in areas that are difficult to access, such as the Sambisa forest, the Mandara mountains and the numerous islands of Lake Chad.