Cameroon soldiers killed in ‘Boko Haram’ attack near Fotokol

Six Cameroonian soldiers were killed in the Far North Region near the border with Nigeria in an attack blamed on “Boko Haram,” authorities said on Sunday.

Nine other soldiers were injured in the attack on a military post at Soueram near Fotokol in the Lake Chad area by armed men, an army officer and two high-ranking officials in the local administration told AFP, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Fotokol is a major crossing point to Gamboru on the Nigeria side of the border.

CamerounWeb on Sunday reported the attack occurred overnight on Friday, September 13, and the casualty toll as five soldiers killed and eight injured.

One of the officials told AFP that five soldiers died during the attack and a sixth died from his injuries on Sunday. The number was confirmed by the other official, as well as an army officer, who also said the killers were members of Boko Haram.

On June 10, 17 Cameroon soldiers were killed in an attack in the same region.

It is unclear which faction of Boko Haram carried out the Soueram attack.

The jihadist group known as Boko Haram began its bloody insurgency in northeastern Nigeria in 2009, but it has since spread into neighboring Niger, Chad and Cameroon, prompting a regional military response.

Boko Haram split into two factions in mid-2016. One, led by long-time leader Abubakar Shekau, is notorious for suicide bombings and indiscriminate killings of civilians. Shekau pledged allegiance to ISIS leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi in March 2015, but ISIS central only gives formal backing to the other faction, which it calls Islamic State West Africa Province.

ISWAP is the dominant insurgent group in the Lake Chad area, particularly in Nigeria, Chad and Niger. The group has carried out attacks in Cameroon, but the Shekau faction is also active in the region on both sides of the border, although its primary area of operations is further south.

In May and June, ISIS claimed ISWAP attacks in the Fotokol area.

The ISWAP faction, which largely focuses on attacking military and government targets, was led by Abu Mus’ab Al-Barnawi, but in March, audio recordings revealed that ISIS appointed Abu Abdullah Idris bin Umar, also known as Ibn Umar al-Barnawi and Ba Idrisa, as leader. Despite releasing several videos featuring ISWAP since, ISIS has not yet made a public statement confirming the change.

On September 10, the United States added Ba Idrisa to its Specially Designated Global Terrorist list. The U.S. Treasury Department sanctions listing named him as Abu Abdullah Idris bin Umar Al-Barnawi and “Ba Idrisa” and said that he was born in Maiduguri between 1989 and 1994. The listing did not specify which faction he belongs to.

The U.S. assesses that Boko Haram and ISWAP have been responsible for more than 35,000 deaths since 2011. More than two million people have been displaced, sparking a dire humanitarian crisis in the region.

The regional Multinational Joint Task Force, which comprises personnel from Chad, Cameroon, Niger, and Nigeria, launched Operation Yancin Tafki on February 21 to battle the insurgents. It has said the cross-border operation is aimed at “making islands and other settlements in Lake Chad untenable for Boko Haram Terrorists.” MNJTF troops have engaged militants in Nigeria, Niger and Chad.

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