Suspected Islamist militants from the Nigerian group Boko Haram kidnapped around 80 people, many of them children, and killed three others on Sunday in a cross-border attack on villages in northern Cameroon, Reuters reported, citing army and government officials.
The group, which has killed thousands and kidnapped hundreds in its bid to carve out an Islamic state in northern Nigeria, has also targeted Cameroon and Niger over the past year as it seeks to expand its zone of operation, the news agency said.
Neighboring Chad deployed around 2,000 soldiers, armored vehicles and attack helicopters to support Cameroon’s forces in the area.
“According to our initial information, around 30 adults, most of them herders, and 50 young girls and boys aged between 10 and 15 years were abducted,” a senior army officer deployed to northern Cameroon told Reuters.
He said the early-morning attack had targeted the village of Mabass and other villages along the border. Soldiers intervened and exchanged fire with the attackers for around two hours, he added.
Government spokesman Issa Tchiroma confirmed the attack, saying that three people had been killed. He did not give an estimate on the number of people taken during the raid.
In an attack that gained worldwide attention last year, its fighters kidnapped around 200 schoolgirls from the town of Chibok, in northeastern Nigeria.
It has stepped up attacks in the region as Africa’s biggest economy prepares for a Feb. 14 presidential election.
In a video posted online this month, a man claiming to be Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau threatened to step up violence in neighboring Cameroon unless it scraps its constitution and embraces Islam.
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