Cameroon said its troops had rescued 5,000 civilian ‘hostages’ held by Boko Haram Islamists in a cross-border operation that left scores of jihadists dead.
Cameroonian troops carried out “a vast operation all along the Cameroon-Nigeria border and in Nigeria” from February 27 to March 7, government spokesman Issa Tchiroma Bakary said in a statement seen by AFP on Wednesday.
The operation, dubbed Thunder 2, “led to the liberation of more than 5,000 people taken hostage by the terrorists”, he said, referring to Boko Haram.
“The freed hostages — most of them women, children and elderly people — were taken to a camp for displaced people in Banki, Nigeria,” he added.
“More than 60 terrorists” were killed, he said, adding that “21 suspects were arrested”.
Boko Haram, which wants to establish a caliphate in northern Nigeria, has been waging an insurgency since 2009.
Though it was born in Nigeria, the Islamic State-affiliated group has also carried out frequent attacks on “soft” targets in neighbouring Cameroon, Chad and Niger, prompting them to form a regional force to fight back.
Some 200,000 Cameroonians from the Far North region near Nigeria have fled their villages in fear of the violence carried out by Boko Haram militants.
The UN Security Council earlier this month vowed to turn the spotlight on a “neglected crisis” affecting 21 million people in the Lake Chad region that straddles Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon and Niger.