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Cameroon bombs Boko Haram positions in north for first time: govt

29 December 2014, 15:08

Yaounde - Cameroon's air force attacked Boko Haram positions in the far north of the country for the first time after the jihadists seized a military camp, the government announced.

President Paul Biya personally ordered Sunday's air strike, which forced the Boko Haram insurgents from neighbouring Nigeria to flee the camp at Assighasia, Communications Minister Issa Tchiroma Bakary said in a statement late Sunday.

"Fighter planes went into action for the first time since the start of the conflict" on Cameroon's side of the border, after several months of deadly raids on troops and civilians by Boko Haram, Bakary added.

"After two strikes and heavy fire ... the assailants fled the Assighasia camp, ... losing several fighters," the minister said, adding that military operations were still under way and that "the toll from combat will be released once the operational evaluation is complete".

The extremists of Boko Haram, which roughly means "Western education is forbidden", have become a deadly force to be reckoned with since 2009 in northern Nigeria and have made raids into neighbouring Cameroon.

Boko Haram tactics include massacres of civilians on both sides of the frontier, the razing of villages, large-scale kidnappings and, most recently, direct assaults on Cameroonian troops.

A Boko Haram squad assaulted the Assighasia camp on Sunday morning and the "Cameroonian defence forces had to withdraw after trying to defend the position", the government statement said.

The air strike marked "a new escalation in the Cameroonian response ... to multiple enemy attacks by the Boko Haram terrorist group", it said.

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