19 dead in double suicide attack on Cameroon market: Local sources

YAOUNDE (AFP) - At least 19 people were killed in a double suicide bombing at a market in northeastern Cameroon on Friday, local officials said.

Several other people were injured in the attack on the market at Meme at around 9am (4pm Singapore time) which was carried out by two female suicide bombers, said the officials, who did not wish to be named.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility but Cameroon’s northern border region with Nigeria is regularly attacked by Boko Haram fighters.

The Nigerian-based militant group began targeting Cameroonian territory in 2013, with more than 1,200 people killed in attacks since in the country’s Far North region, according to the government.

Friday’s bombings in Meme were the sixth suicide attack since the start of this year in the Far North, where Boko Haram have increasingly been using teenagers and women as bombers. Markets are frequently targeted.

Officials say multiple army operations since the end of November have considerably weakened the militants’ position, but Boko Haram has upped the rate of its suicide bombings in Cameroon as well as continuing with its attacks in north-east Nigeria.

An army offensive last week in Ngoshe, on the Nigerian side of the border with Cameroon, inflicted heavy losses on the militant group, with troops able to seize large quantities of arms and ammunition, according to the Cameroonian government.

The army assault was carried out as part of operations by the multi-national force formed to fight the rise of Boko Haram, which includes troops from Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Benin.

Boko Haram’s insurgency, seeking a hardline Islamic state in northern Nigeria, has killed at least 17,000 people and left more than 2.6 million others homeless since their six-year campaign began.