Cameroon’s military has arrested 40 suspected Boko Haram militants in the north of the country. Soldiers have also sealed off a market where they suspect Boko Haram may be hiding arms for use in the insurgency over the border in Nigeria.
Col. Nyemeck Pierre, who led the military raid, told VOA that the central government ordered the military action as part of its fight against Boko Haram incursions into Cameroon.
“It is the duty of the military to filter the population so that enemies do not infiltrate into Cameroon,” he said in French Language.
He added that the matter was complicated because along the border there were Nigerians and Cameroonians “who belong to the same families and soldiers have to try to distinguish who is a militant.
Also, a state radio broadcaster in Cameroon also announced that, “A gendarme [military] raid on the Maroua Central Market has led to the arrests of over 40 people.
“The arrests are in connection with the ongoing investigations into the activities of the Boko Haram group in the far north region of the country.”
In an interview with the private Danay FM radio station, Maroua businessman Wanika Baba, said many of the arrested were his peers and there was confusion in the community.
He added that he did not understand what was happening as the military has had the market sealed off for two days now and have arrested so many people.
Baba said children and women were suffering from the closure and “no one knows the fate of those arrested.”
This is the first time Cameroon’s military has carried out an operation on such a large scale in a single day.
Northern Cameroon has been plagued for almost a year with an influx of refugees and militants from strife in neighbouring Central African Republic and the Boko Haram violence in northern Nigeria.
Authorities in Cameroon have been urging citizens along the border – particularly with Nigeria’s Borno State – the heart of the Boko Haram insurgency – to cooperate with the government by providing information on suspected sympathisers with the Islamist sect.
The Cameroonian government believes Boko Haram is now expanding its recruitment into Cameroon.