As Nigeria, Cameroon top military commanders intensify efforts to battle against the Islamist militant group, Boko Haram, members of a local civilian defence force in the northern town of Kerawa,Cameroon have stepped up efforts to protect their city.
Reuters reports that the local volunteers group have armed themselves with handmade weapons in order to defend their community against the threat of Boko Haram suicide bombers.
The Islamist insurgents have repeatedly targeted the town located in the remote part of northern Cameroon. They had used the town as means of supplies and recruiting into the group until the government cracked down on the group last year.
I'm not scared. They are people, we are also people. We must die to live, and we're engaged in the fight against them, just as the president said.
According to the US military, the influence of the terrorist group in the past six years has resulted in the death of 15,000 people.
Nigeria and its neighbouring countries have united to stamp out Boko Haram.
Cameroon is part of an 8,700-strong regional force led by Nigeria against the militants.
Boko Haram is retaliating with a deadly guerrilla campaign against civilians and infrastructure.
Cameroon’s top officer in the fight against Boko Haram, Lieutenant-Colonel Felix Tetcha said access to water have hindered the ability of people to resume regular daily activities.
“The recovery of boreholes is a major factor in returning life to normal in Kerawa, and it’s proximity to the border makes it difficult to protect, but so far, the enemy has not been able to approach it to undermine the work.”
He said the army does not have enough soldiers to deploy in every town in northern Cameroon, and so suicide bombers strike regularly, often several times in a single week.
“It is usually at night that they try to sabotage the facilities, but now there are joint night patrols with the defense forces and vigilance committees. It’s thanks to the permanent, around-the-clock joint patrol system, because ever since we set it up, the borehole continues to function,” said Tetcha.
Faced with such threat, Cameroon’s army has turned to so-called vigilance committees for help.
The self-defence forces is made up of men and boys armed with machetes, handmade rifles or bow and arrows, they also have the blessing of the local government.
They accompany the army on patrols and intelligence gathering missions, question travellers, and inform the military about anyone deemed suspicious.
“I’m not scared. They are people, we are also people. We must die to live, and we’re engaged in the fight against them, just as the president said,” a member of the local civilian defense force, Adama Simila said.
Last month, the United States Africa Command (USAFRICOM) announced that the United States has offered to send a special operations mission to Nigeria to help the West African country fight the Islamist militant group Boko Haram.
The Nigerian military has confirmed the arrest of the leader of the Ansaru Islamic sect, Khalid Albarnawi, who was the second in command to Abubakar Shekau in the hierarchy of the Boko Haram terrorists group.