Cameroon army kills 86 Boko Haram militants
17 February 2015, 09:23
Yaounde - Cameroon's army says it has
killed 86 Boko Haram militants and detained 1 000 people suspected of links to
the Islamist group, as central African leaders held talks on how to combat its
Five Cameroonian soldiers were also killed
during the clashes in the Waza region near the border with Nigeria, defence
ministry spokesperson Didier Badjeck said on Monday.
Nigeria-based Boko Haram has widened its
attacks into neighbouring nations, notably Cameroon and Chad, in a conflict
estimated to have claimed a total 13 000 lives since 2009.
Representatives of 10 nations, meeting in
the Cameroonian capital Yaounde on Monday under the aegis of the Economic
Community of Central African States (ECCAS), urged the international community
to provide more support in the fightback against the Islamists.
"We have to eradicate Boko
Haram," said Cameroon's President Paul Biya, as attendees pledged to
create an $86m fund to fight the group.
Biya declared that Boko Haram's utter
disregard for human dignity meant "a total impossibility of
compromise", but added that the fight against terrorism was not a
"crusade against Islam".
Nigeria, where elections have been
postponed by six weeks until late March because of Boko Haram activity in
swathes of the northeast, was absent from the talks as it is not an ECCAS
The aim of Monday's discussion was to come
up with "an agreed solution" on the fight against the extremists, a
source close to the Cameroonian government told AFP.
Chad, Cameroon, Niger and Nigeria have
formed a military alliance to combat the notoriously brutal militants, who are
fighting to create a hardline Islamic state.
A Cameroonian army official announced that
more than 1 000 people suspected of being affiliated with Boko Haram were being
held in the town of Maroua, in the country's Far North region, where more than
2 000 Cameroonian soldiers have been deployed since August last year.
"At the moment, the prison of Maroua
is holding more than 1 000 Boko Haram [suspects]," said Colonel Joseph
Nouma, commander of a local operation to combat the Islamist militants.
The detentions came as police in Niger said
they had arrested more than 160 people suspected of having links to Boko Haram
in the country's Diffa region, a border area with Nigeria which was attacked by
the Islamist group this month.
Nigeria, which has been most affected by
Boko Haram violence, meanwhile announced its troops had recaptured the
strategic garrison town of Monguno in the northeast, which had fallen into Boko
Haram hands late last month.
"Troops in a military operation
spearheaded by highly coordinated air assaults have completed the mission of
clearing terrorists from Monguno and environs this morning," defence
spokesperson Chris Olukolade said.
With his country's troops actively engaged
in combating Boko Haram, ECCAS chairperson Deby called on nations in the
economic group "who have not yet been struck" by the insurgency
"to show their solidarity".
"We also call on the international community
to provide its support - in equipment, diplomacy, finance, logistics and
humanitarian aid - to the efforts made by ECCAS," Deby said.
After previous talks in Yaounde, Nigeria's
immediate neighbours, Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Benin announced on 7 February
that they would mobilise a regional force of 8 700 men to fight Boko Haram.
Operational plans for the regional force
have yet to be submitted to the Peace and Security Council of the African Union
for approval before being sent to the United Nations Security Council,
according to a statement released after the regional talks.
In a statement read in Yaounde on his
behalf, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon warned that "a purely military
solution" would not suffice to deal with Boko Haram.
The fight called for a
"multidimensional approach... that will meet the challenges of
stabilisation in the long term," the UN chief said, referring to the
region's economic and social challenges.