More than 140 fighters from Boko Haram fighters, the Islamist group that is waging a deadly war in Nigeria, were killed in clashes with Cameroonian troops, Cameroon’s government said Tuesday.
“It is by far the heaviest toll sustained by the criminal sect Boko Haram since it began launching its barbaric attacks against our land, people and goods,” Cameroonian Information Minister Issa Tchiroma Bakary said in a statement on television.
He said the militants had attacked a Cameroonian military camp in Kolofata on Monday. In the five-hour fight that followed, 143 militants were killed, he said.
One Cameroonian soldier was killed and four others were wounded, he said.
News reports from the region note that it is not possible to corroborate the government’s claims as the fighting occurred in a remote region. But as The Associated Press notes: “Neighboring countries increasingly are being drawn into Nigeria’s five-year Islamic uprising, which has killed thousands and driven 1.6 million people from their homes, including across borders into Cameroon, Niger and Chad.”
Boko Haram, in a recent video, threatened Cameroonian President Paul Biya.
As NPR’s Scott Neuman reported last week, militants from the group who seized a northern garrison town in Nigeria reportedly carried out a massacre of its inhabitants. Amnesty International said as many as 2,000 people were killed. The Nigerian government estimated the number of fatalities at no more than 150.
The increased violence in Nigeria comes at a delicate time for President Goodluck Jonathan, who is currently seeking re-election. As NPR’s Ofeibea Quist-Arcton reported, Jonathan has also been mostly silent about the more than 200 schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram last spring.