Twin suicide attacks in north Cameroon kill 11

YAOUNDE (AFP) - Eleven people were killed on Wednesday in northern Cameroon when two girls blew themselves up in twin attacks in a region repeatedly targeted by Nigeria-based Boko Haram militants, officials said.

The girls, who were "under 15", attacked the central market of the regional capital Maroua as well as the adjoining Hausa neighbourhood, regional governor Midjiyawa Bakari said.

In a statement, the presidency said that 11 people had died and 32 were wounded in what it called "cowardly and despicable" acts.

A source close to local authorities earlier confirmed the attack, saying "two girls who were begging blew themselves up" at around 3pm (10pm Singapore time).

A Cameroonian journalist, who was in the town at the time, described "total panic" in the town after the bombings.

The attack is the the second of its kind in Cameroon in the past 10 days.

On July 12, two female suicide bombers blew themselves up in Fotokol, on the border with Nigeria, killing 10 civilians and a soldier from neighbouring Chad.

Over the past two years, Boko Haram has carried out several cross-border raids and abductions in northern Cameroon but the country, which is engaged in a regional fightback against the militants, had previously been spared from suicide attacks.

The coalition, which has also drawn in Nigeria, Niger and Chad, has succeeded in retaking several towns and villages in north-east Nigeria from the insurgents.

Their response in recent weeks, since President Muhammadu Buhari came to power in Nigeria vowing to defeat them, has been to step up their attacks, showing they are far from vanquished.