Boko Haram has turned up the heat on Cameroon’s government following a cross-border attack on Sunday in which at least 15 people were killed and the wife of Cameroonian Deputy Prime Minister Amadou Ali was abducted. The devastating incursion blamed on the Nigerian militant group is hardly the first in recent days, however the capture of such a high-profile hostage significantly raises the stakes on Cameroon to address the growing threat on its border with Nigeria.
On Monday, Cameroonian Information Minister Issa Tchiroma said his government had bolstered its troop level at the border to 3,000 while the spokesperson for Cameroon’s military said the deployment followed intelligence reports that Boko Haram was looking to seize and occupy Cameroonian territory. The militant group’s increasing boldness across the border appears to have prompted a re-think in Yaounde as Cameroonian officials publicly recalibrate their approach to the Nigerian movement. According to VOA,
Tchiroma says Cameroon’s security agencies will soon implement a revised security counter-insurgency strategy to combat the Islamist militants…
“The problem is we are fighting and asymmetric battle. Nobody knows who is Boko Haram, they have very much infiltrated here and there [and] it is impossible to know when they will attack,” said Tchiroma. “The government is going to take any measures to review our strategy and to find the right and best answer to tackle and curb this situation.”
While Cameroon has not remained unscathed by the raging insurgency next door, it is only in recent weeks that the militant group has made its presence felt in a sustained way in the neighboring territory. Sunday’s attack was the third in nearly as many days, with earlier Boko Haram strikes on Thursday and Friday resulting in the abduction of a prominent local religious leader in the town of Kolofata. The spiraling threat has raised questions about the government’s cooperation thus far with Abuja, with critics saying that Yaounde has only belatedly begun taking the challenge seriously.
Boko Haram’s kidnapping of more than 200 Nigerian schoolgirls back in April may have been successful in raising an international outcry however it does not seem to have galvanized a true regional effort at routing the radical Islamist organization. As its tactics grow more bold and its reach widens, the security threat posed by the group is no longer one that Abuja alone will have to contend with. If there is something regional governments can take away from Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan’s largely fruitless effort against the group, it is the lack of wisdom in underestimating the gravity of the insurgency.