NEW: Military official says Boko Haram is changing tactics with raids, rather than challenging troops
Boko Haram militants attacks a market and infirmary, a Cameroonian military spokesman says
The Islamist extremist group is based in Nigeria but has launched attacks in nearby countries
Boko Haram militants killed about 30 people and wounded 145 others in attacks early Thursday on a market and infirmary in northern Cameroon, a military official said.
The bloodshed once again demonstrates the Islamist extremist group’s wrath and reach in Africa.
The terrorist group’s members “came in from across the hills in Nigeria,” where Boko Haram is based, and struck a crowded market in the town Kerawa, said Col. Didier Badjeck, a spokesman for Cameroon’s military.
The militants also attacked an infirmary near a Cameroonian military camp, according to Badjeck.
The spokesman said Thursday’s attacks suggest Boko Haram may be changing its tactics, with more quick raids striking civilians than battles with government troops.
“They find it hard these days, coming face-to-face with our forces,” Badjeck added. “What they do now is come in from Nigeria, attack border areas, and then run back to Nigeria.”
The sentiment was seconded by Joseph Vincent Ntuda Ebode, a professor at the University of Yaounde, who credited the Cameroonian military’s actions in the wake of July suicide bombings that killed dozens. They’ve reverted to “the traditional methods used by all terrorist groups (like) suicide bombings,” he said.
But Boko Haram still is a potent and dangerous force, he added.
“This means they can attack simultaneously in Cameroon, Nigeria, Chad, Niger and Benin,” Ntuda Ebode said.
Boko Haram’s grisly track record
The bloodshed in Cameroon came days after Boko Haram terrorists rode into the village of Baanu, in northeast Nigeria’s Borno state, on horseback and shot dead 68 people, according to residents and local militia.
Such attacks have become commonplace in Nigeria for years, as Boko Haram has increasingly and violently asserted itself.
The group began in the mid-2000s with a stated aim of imposing its strict version of Sharia law across Nigeria, which is split between a majority Muslim north and a mostly Christian south.
To achieve this goal, Boko Haram has resorted to some of the most abhorrent tactics imaginable to achieve its goals. These include bombing marketplaces, churches, mosques and other public gathering spots as well as mass kidnappings, the most notorious being last year’s abduction of over 200 girls from a school in the northeastern Nigerian city of Chibok. Those girls’ fate remains a mystery.
Yet Boko Haram hasn’t confined itself to Nigeria’s borders.
Its fighters have also launched lethal attacks on sites in several other western and central African countries, including Niger, Benin and Chad.
This also includes Cameroon, who is one of the African nations who pledged last winter to contribute to an 8,700-strong regional military force to combat Boko Haram.