Tuesday, 5 August 2014
Cameroon: Boko Haram abducts wife of President Paul Biya's security icon
Sunday 27 July was a prodigious day in Cameroon after Boko Haram’s unprecedented and deadly attack upon the homes of two key Cameroonian politicians in the country’s Far-North Region.
Besides partially exposing the country’s security weakness, the attack was also a pertinent reminder to the authorities in Yaoundé that Boko Haram is becoming increasingly ambitious, organised, and deadly. Ultimately, the attack that left 18 dead and saw a further 17 kidnapped, including the wife of Cameroon’s Vice Prime Minister, was an ominous warning to President Paul Biya’s government that it is in a battle against a tenacious enemy that is willing and able to use alternative tactics to strike Cameroon’s most senior politicians.
The attack took place in Kolofata, in the Far-North Region of Cameroon, home to the country’s Vice Prime Minister, Amadou Ali, and a prominent Muslim leader and critic of Boko Haram, Seini Boukar Lamine, who is also the town’s mayor. Eyewitnesses stated that the attackers arrived in a convoy of eight 4x4 pickups vehicles and several motorbikes. The militants precisely targeted the two politicians’ residences, firing a rocket-propelled grenade into Amadou Ali’s home before leaving with his wife as their prisoner.
The attacks came on the fifth day of a running gun battle between Boko Haram and Cameroon soldiers in the north of the country. Cameroon has deployed more than a thousand soldiers along its border to help combat the Nigerian armed group, which last week launched a massive assault on the north-east Nigerian town of Damboa near the Cameroonian border, displacing more than 15,000 people. The group gained international notoriety after kidnapping more than 270 schoolgirls in northern Nigeria in April, but has been active in the country for more than 12 years.
There were very specific reasons for the attack and the kidnapping in Cameroon. For further detailed analysis on why Boko Haram targeted Amadou Ali - and on his pivotal role in Cameroon’s current and future political and security hierarchy – see Cameroon Politics & Security – 30.07.14