In her bid to forestall religious suicide bombings and ramp up new security measures against Boko Haram insurgents, the Cameroonian government has sent about 2,500 Nigerians living illegally in the country packing on Friday.
L’Oeil de Sahel, a regional newspaper, reported that the “irregular” Nigerians were “rounded up” in Cameroon’s far north town, Kousseri, and deported back in droves; and a Facebook post shows several trucks crammed with hundreds of passengers departing the town.
An official of a local NGO, Mey Aly, provided that most of the affected Nigerians “fled the atrocities of Boko Haram” to take refuge in Cameroon,” and another source confirmed that thousands of Nigerians were truly “expelled from Kousseri.”
This development surfaced barely 48 hours after President Buhari visited Cameroon’s President Paul Biya – both of whom discussed the Boko Haram threat and pledged bilateral cooperation to rout them from the region.
Between July 12-25, three suicide attacks were carried out in Cameroon’s regional capital Maroua and on its border with Nigeria, with over 44 people killed in the separate attacks. And in June, the Cameroonian border-post town of Kousseri was hit by two suicide attacks that left several people dead – at a bridge that separates the town with Chad’s capital N’Djamena.
“With these attacks, the tone of the authorities has changed,” said a security source in Maroua. “They have asked that foreigners (notably Nigerians) and displaced people in the border areas go home.”
In a related step, women have been banned wearing the full hijab with their faces fully covered behind a veil in Cameroon’s far north when it became apparent that suicide bombers are using the religious garment to conceal explosives.
And to prevent using them for suicide attacks, over 300 Cameroonian children in Maroua’s Quranic schools were asked to leave back for their villages when security information filtered in that they might be used to carry out deadly suicide bombings.