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Security tightened in Cameroon

Moki Kindzeka, Cameroon / shAugust 13, 2015

Cameroonians are undergoing numerous security checks introduced after the government deployed large numbers of soldiers to all major towns to search people, shops and houses in response to terrorism threats.

Soldiers of Cameroon's Rapid Intervention Battalion on patrol near the border with Nigeria
Image: picture-alliance/dpa

In addition to introducing wider security checks, the authorities in Cameroon have also advised business persons, schools and churches to recruit private security agents.

At the university of Yaounde in Cameroon's capital city, students have welcomed the government's decision to send soldiers to all university campuses throughout the country in order to protect them from terrorist attacks.

Third year history student Bih Che Rose says they called the government to come to their help because Boko Haram has extended its attacks to Cameroon. Suicide bombings have increased, frequently targeting public places including schools. Students see themselves and their country's future at risk.

"We are the ones to develop Cameroon for tomorrow and our security has to be guaranteed," Bih Che Rose said. "The priority should be schools because you can never tell who is who nowadays. Even a child can come to school and you can think that it is a normal child but it could be concealing a bomb. Security has to be reinforced in schools."

A group of people dragging a blanket containing the remains of victims of a suicide bombing
Security forces remove the remains of victims of a suicide bombing in Maroua in JulyImage: Getty Images/AFP/Stringer

19-year-old geography student Jean Paul Ndip said the government should also improve security at bus stations and check all vehicles.

Boko Haram is now targeting Cameroon because the country has supported the Nigerian military's mission to defeat the group.

Cameroon's military is now systematically checking homes, markets and churches in all major towns and cities. Businesswoman Verma Kimbi welcomes the new strategy. "What the government has done is very good because it is not only for our protection but for the protection of all so we can carry out our activities."

Popular support for the Cameroonian government may be explained by the number of deathsw caused by Boko Haram in recent months.

Eliminating Boko Haram is the goal

In July, some 60 Cameroonians were killed in the region bordering on Nigeria's Borno state, which is Boko Haram's stronghold. Four young female suicide bombers were used in separate attacks. Bernard Okalia Bilai, governor of southwestern Cameroon, says although the attacks were in the north, the government intends to step up security checks all over the country. He said people should not hesitate to act if they see someone acting suspiciously. "In the church, in the market, if you suspect a face, don't hesitate to ask who the person is."

Cameroon's Defense Minister Edgard Alain Mebe Ngo'o says he is appealing to all to accept the heightened security until Boko Haram is crushed. "Security forces have been working hard, but they need the support of every Cameroonian. Everyone should be educated to contribute to the fight against Boko Haram until it is totally eliminated from Cameroon. Cameroon will only develop to become an emerging economy when there is peace," Ngo'o said.

President Paul Buhari welcomes President Buhari
Nigeria's President Buhari (left) and President Paul Biya of Cameroon met to discuss strategies to defeat Boko HaramImage: picture-alliance/Photoshot

In late July, Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari visited Cameroon to hold two days of closed-door meetings with President Paul Biya. In a joint statement the two leaders expressed "their common determination to eradicate Boko Haram" and agreed "to intensify the exchange of information between the two countries." They will also beef up security along their shared border, the statement said.

Since then Buhari has sworn in a new set of military chiefs and ordered them to end the Boko Haram insurgency within three months.