YAOUNDE (Reuters) - Cameroon’s President Paul Biya has appealed for international military help to fight Islamist militant group Boko Haram, which this week threatened to step up its cross-border raids into the country from Nigeria.
The Nigerian group is part of a “global” movement that has attacked Mali, the Central African Republic and Somalia in its drive to establish its authority from the Indian Ocean to the Atlantic, Biya said.
“A global threat calls for a global response. Such should be the response of the international community, including the African Union and our regional organizations,” he said in a New Year speech on Thursday to diplomats at the presidential palace.
He said he regretted that a regional military force against the Islamists had yet to be established.
At least 15 people were killed in an attack on a bus in north Cameroon on New Year’s day.
A man purporting to be Boko Haram’s leader, Abubakar Shekau, threatened in a video posted online this week to step up violence in Cameroon unless it scrapped its constitution and embraced Islam. Biya did not comment on the video in his speech.
The country has deployed more troops to its Far North region and has killed hundreds of the Islamist fighters. New laws aimed at stamping out the militants were also helping, Biya said.
“Although weakened by the losses it has suffered, our foe nonetheless remains capable of bouncing back,” he said.
The German government donated 120 all-terrain vehicles to Cameroon’s military in November.
Boko Haram is the main security threat to Nigeria, Africa’s leading energy producer and biggest economy and also threatens Chad and Niger.
Reporting by Tansa Musa; Editing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg and Andrew Roche