Deaths reported as Nigerian armed group targets Kolofata in neighbouring country, forcing many to flee the city.
Fighters from the Nigerian armed group Boko Haram have launched an attack on a military base in the northwest Cameroonian city of Kolofata, police and government officials say.
Monday’s attack came a day after blasts struck an open market selling mobile handsets in the town of Potiskum in Nigeria’s Yobe state, one of three northeastern states repeatedly targeted by Boko Haram.
“As soon as people heard the first gunfire, they fled the city,” a police source told the AFP news agency on Monday, adding: “The gunfire was very heavy.”
Issa Tchiroma, Cameroon’s communication minister and government spokesperson, told Al Jazeera that between 200 and 300 Boko Haram fighters had been killed in the attack.
He also said Cameroonian soldiers had seized heavy military equipment and vehicles from Boko Haram, apparently during a recent attack by the group on Nigeria’s northeastern town of Baga.
Al Jazeera could not independently verify the ministers’ claims.
Citing military sources, Eugene Nforngwa, a local journalist, told Al Jazeera by email that one Cameroonian soldier of the Rapid Response Battalion (BIR in French) was killed and another wounded in Monday’s clashes.
“Kolofata is not very near the border with Nigeria, which means the militants travelled at least 10km into Cameroon,” he said.
“Cameroonian military spokesperson Colonel Didier Badjec confirmed the attack and said he was preparing a press release, which will be published later today.”
Sources said Kolofata is on a hill, which gave Cameroonian troops strategic advantage over Boko Haram fighters.
Boko Haram, which has been designated by the US as a “terrorist” organisation, has been fighting since 2009 to establish sharia law in all 36 states of Nigeria, which is roughly equally divided between a mainly Christian south and a largely Muslim north.
The Nigerian government has since May 2013 declared a state of emergency in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe, the three states where most of the deadly attacks have happened.
Source : Al Jazeera