21, December 2021
Cameroonian authorities say troops have arrested hundreds of armed men blamed for communal violence in the northeast this month that displaced more than a hundred thousand people — most to neighboring Chad. Authorities say they also seized hundreds of weapons as well as cattle stolen during the conflict over scarce resources.
Cameroonian authorities say the military is conducting an intensive search to find and arrest additional armed men operating in Logone and Chari, along the northern border with Chad.
The governor of the Far North region, Midjiyawa Bakari, says military raids on hideouts in the area led to the arrests of several hundred men.
Speaking from the region’s capital, Maroua, Bakari said the men were believed responsible for much of the violence this month that displaced more than 100,000 people — most of them across the border to Chad.
He says besides the arrests, the military also seized several hundred weapons that the men were using to attack and kill civilians. Bakari says troops also seized 30 motorcycles that armed men from rival communities were using in attacks. He says more than 200 cattle stolen from ranchers have been recovered and will be handed over after investigations to determine their legitimate owners.
Clashes broke out on December 4 between ranchers and fishers over water resources, leaving scores dead and sending tens of thousands fleeing — most of them women and children.
Arab Choua cattle ranchers and ethnic Mousgoum fishers accuse each other of trespassing and occupying each other’s land.
Bakari says most males who remained in the villages are involved in the fighting.
He would not give details on how many people have been killed in the clashes but said no government troops are among the casualties.
President Paul Biya last week dispatched to the area a delegation of lawmakers, ministers, religious leaders, and traditional rulers to negotiate a peace between the communities.
Retired army colonel Hamad Kalkaba Malboum was part of the delegation.
He says in areas where the clashes have stopped, they are asking villagers to return home.
“The president of the republic of Cameroon sent the mission [delegation] to tell people that they must be calm, the government will give instructions to rebuild what has been destroyed, and we need also to prepare the development of that region, which has also suffered Boko Haram [atrocities],” he said.
Boko Haram, an Islamist militant group from Nigeria, has since 2014 spread to neighboring Cameroon, Chad, and Niger, launching attacks that have killed more than 30,000 people and displaced two million.
Cameroon’s government is allocating $300 million to rebuild infrastructure the militants destroyed along the border.
The communal violence this month left several villages and markets burned to the ground.
Cameroonian authorities have asked people in the area who own weapons to hand them over.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees reports at least 85,000 Cameroonians have fled into neighboring Chad and 15,000 are internally displaced. But it says the real number could be much higher.