YAOUNDE – Standing united in the face of Boko Haram atrocities, Muslim and Christian communities in Cameroon’s Far North region have been making shifts to protect mosques and churches on Friday and Sunday prayers, to defend themselves against attacks by the militant group.
“We have a new technique; Christians secure mosques when Muslims pray… On Sundays when Christians are in places of worship, Muslims patrol around churches to detect any suspicious movement,” Mindjiyawa Bakary, governor of Cameroon’s Far North region, told Anadolu Agency on Thursday.
This new strategy is currently “being tested in some villages and will be extended to the whole region,” Bakary said.
Bakary was describing the new technique adopted in Cameroon’s Far North region against Boko Haram.
The new system was adopted along with existing security methods, which include vigilance committees in villages near the Nigerian border that work hand in hand with Cameroonian security forces.
Armed with arrows and machetes, they perform daily patrols in villages and stop suspicious individuals. Members of the vigilance community have reportedly foiled several attacks.
A vigilance committee also was established in mosques in Yaounde, Cameroon’s capital city, a year ago.
“If we have doubts, we denounce them to the police. Same for those who preach radical Islam,” Sheikh Ibrahim Moussa, imam of the Yaounde Grand Mosque, told AA.
He added that the vigilance committee tried to identify suspicious activities around the mosque.
Boko Haram, a Hausa term meaning “Western education is sinful”, is loosely modeled on Afghanistan’s Taliban.
For the last five years, Nigeria has battled a fierce Boko Haram insurgency that has ravaged the country’s volatile northeastern region and claimed thousands of lives.
But 2014 has been the bloodiest year of the insurgency yet, with increasingly frequent attacks, higher death tolls and a deluge of displaced persons.
The militant group has been kidnapping females for years and has hundreds in their custody.
Since the beginning of the year, Cameroon has suffered “15 suicide attacks perpetrated by Boko Haram militants”, according to the country’s minister of communication, Issa Tchiroma Bakary.
Since 2013, over 1,098 civilians, 67 soldiers and three policemen have been killed in Boko Haram attacks in Cameroon’s Far North region near the Nigerian border, according to Bakary.