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ICC Note:

Boko Haram, a radical Islamic insurgency that, late last month, declared towns across northeast Nigeria as part of the Islamic caliphate, has driven thousands of Nigerians across the border into Cameroon. Churches in northwest Cameroon are now reportedly being overwhelmed by the mass-influx of refugees following Boko Haram’s vast territorial gains over the last few weeks.

09/14/2014 Cameroon (World Watch Monitor) – Northern Cameroon is more than ever in the sights of Boko Haram, as details of atrocities committed by the radical Islamic sect from neighboring Nigeria continue to emerge.

The militant sect, which now controls several major Nigerian towns, has set up a caliphate with a strict implementation of sharia law. A lawmaker told the BBC that dead bodies of civilians remained littered on the streets of Bama, a key town of Nigeria’s north-eastern Borno state – seized by Boko Haram this week. Christians in the occupied areas are being persecuted, it is reported. Christian men have been caught and beheaded while women have been forced to convert and been married to some of the militants.

Their offensive has forced thousands of civilians to flee into neighboring Cameroon. Making a mockery of the border (which the Cameroon authorities say they’ve closed to prevent the spread of the ebola virus) militants have intensified their attacks in Cameroon’s villages and towns. As in Nigeria, Christian populations are particularly targeted.

This is particularly true of the village of Cherif Moussary, where a church was ransacked and the residence of the pastor burned down. Many Christian families were stripped of their properties; ‘even kitchen utensils were not spared’ local sources told World Watch Monitor.

A similar act of desecration was reported at Mouldougoua village. At Assighassia (occupied for days by militants before being ousted by the army on Thursday, August 28) two church elders – Zerubbabel Tchamaya and Samuel Lada – were beheaded. In Djibrilli village, a pastor was kidnapped, threatened and asked about his faith by militants before being released the following day.

Everywhere the story is the same. A local community leader told World Watch Monitor “The assailants attack in the night, when the army is no longer patrolling in the villages. They enter the houses of Christians and strip them of their properties… Several churches were ransacked and valuables such as musical instruments were destroyed or taken away…

“The situation is alarming”, laments the leader, who has sheltered a number of the internally displaced. “It is difficult to give precise figures of Christians who have fled”.

In July, at least 25 people were killed in Cameroon, among them a church leader, as militants carried out two spectacular attacks in the region. The wife of the Deputy Prime Minister was kidnapped, raising the fear that northern Cameroon, long seen as a rear base for the militants, has become a new battle field for them. She was rescued two days later, after a fierce battle between her kidnappers and the army.

Since then, the Cameroon government has announced the reinforcement of the army in the region. Also several meetings have been held – aimed at pooling resources with neighbors – after the abduction in April of about 300 Chibok school girls by Islamists. On Wednesday, Nigeria and its regional allies called for greater international support to shut down Boko Haram’s weapons and funding supply, as concern has mounted at the group’s rapid recent land grab in North-Eastern Nigeria.

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