Cameroon’s military has arrested several Boko Haram fighters and their 25 female accomplices who were attempting to supply food and weapons through Cameroon to the fighters in Nigeria. Most of the women say their husbands are fighters in Nigeria.
Alban Toupo, commander of the Rapid Intervention Battalion, the Cameroon military unit fighting the Boko Haram insurgency in the border town of Kolofata, said 31 people, including 25 women, were arrested while transporting ammunition, food, material to fabricate explosive devices, torches, drugs and medications to Nigeria in small quantities.
The commander said the suspects at times involved their children in the smuggling, claiming that they were either going to visit relatives across the border in Nigeria or were simply going to sell food and buy basic commodities.
He said after Cameroon military had killed fighters who were using force to transport food and military equipment through Cameroon villages to Nigeria, they could not believe women and children, at times accompanied by men, were carrying supplies to the terror group until they received a tip from the population.
He said his troops had protected the women and children without knowing they were either fighters or accomplices.
Alban said they were told the women recruited suicide bombers, planted landmines on border zones with Nigeria and served as informants for hostage takings between Cameroon border town of Kolofata and Nigeria.
Kolofata has suffered from Boko Haram violence with frequent cross-border raids since fighting started four years ago. The town hosts several hundred Nigerian refugees as well as internally displaced persons who have been forced to flee their homes due to persistent fighting.
Tchombai Ibrahi, the most senior Cameroon government official in Kolofata says the suspects have been helping the military in their investigations.
He said they have embarked on a tour to educate the population not to collaborate and not to do business with the criminals who pretend to be farmers and business persons but end up terrorizing villagers.
Soldiers from Cameroon, Nigeria, Chad and Niger, as part of the multi-national joint task force of the lake Chad Basin Commission, rolled back Boko Haram gains and announced the terrorist group was living its last moments last year, but the insurgency switched to terror attacks and remains a threat.
The conflict that began in northeast Nigeria began eight years ago and has left at least 25,000 people dead and forced more than 2.6 million others to flee their homes, according to the United Nations.