YAOUNDE (Reuters) - Cameroon’s army has dismantled a training camp for the Boko Haram Islamist group, arresting or killing dozens of militants and seizing 84 children who were being trained there, the army said on Monday.
Local people in northwest Cameroon alerted the military on Saturday to the camp in Guirvidig locality, near the border with northeastern Nigeria, said Lieutenant Colonel Didier Badjeck, spokesman for Cameroon’s Ministry of Defence.
“The Rapid Intervention Battalion of our army immediately launched an attack, seized 84 children between seven and 15 who were undergoing training in the camp, arrested 45 of the trainers and killed many more,” he told Reuters. There was no independent confirmation.
It is the first time the army has dismantled a camp and appears to represent a further success for the military after it said it killed 116 militants on Wednesday.
Boko Haram has killed hundreds of people in northeastern Nigeria this year as it campaigns for an Islamist state. The group has also attacked other cities and stepped up cross-border incursions into Cameroon, prompting Cameroon to deploy troops to its northern region.
The children are being investigated to determine whether they are Cameroonian or Nigerian while the 45 militant trainers arrested will be transferred to the capital Yaounde, he said.
Badjeck said there was no precise toll because the fighters fled in pick-up trucks carrying their dead, adding that three pick-ups were burned. He did not say whether the army suffered any casualties during the operation.
Reporting by Tansa Musa; Editing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg and Dominic Evans