Cameroonian authorities says it has recovered the bodies of 42 fishermen kidnapped last week by Boko Haram on the Nigeria-Cameroon border from Lake Chad in Cameroon. It was gathered that the villagers near Lake Chad had alerted authorities after several bodies were observed floating. The bodies were removed from the lake on Saturday and Sunday. The military announced:
“We recovered 42 bodies from the water between Saturday and Sunday. After identification, we found they were of Cameroonian, Nigerian and Chadian nationality. The bodies were immediately handed over to the families for burial.”
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The men had been seized on 8th June from the village of Darak, located near the Nigerian border, by Boko Hara members who also killed 10 fishermen in nearby Touboun Ali on 6th June and 32 soldiers in Bosso, Niger on 3 June.
Boko Haram has fought a seven-year battle to form an Islamist caliphate in the region in which around 20,000 people have been killed and 2.7 million people displaced. Around 50,000 have been displaced in south eastern Niger in the last few days due to an onslaught by the group.
According to United Nations’ World Food Program (WFP), this has prompted a doubling of food aid to southern Niger and many people have walked from 10 km to 40 kms (6 to 25 miles) away from their homes and communities. The statement says:
“They are arriving in a state of shock, and urgently need food, shelter, water – assistance with their most basic needs. They have now reached the end of their rope.”
Niger, Chad, Benin and Cameroon have all joined an international task-force to fight the insurgents, but often ordinary civilians are usually the ones who suffer most. Boko Haram has bombed many mosques, transport hubs and even refugee centres, as well as snatching over 200 schoolgirls from Chibok in Borno state, Nigeria.
In March (2016) Cameroon announced the death penalty for 89 members of Boko Haram, a decision which is seen as counter-productive by anti-terrorism experts. The Nigeria-based Islamic militants pledged support for the Islamic State last year.
Meanwhile, a group of 43 men, women and children reportedly escaped from Boko Haram militants who had held them captive in Madube, northeastern Nigeria. The Nigerian military also “intercepted 14 internally displaced persons” during a separate patrol in the same region, army spokesman Sani Kukasheka Usman said in a statement.