A suicide bombing by a Boko Haram sect member has killed no fewer than 10 people in northern Cameroon, a security source said on Thursday.
The bombing was the latest in a spate of attacks blamed on the Nigeria-based Islamist militant group in northern Cameroon, which have driven tens of thousands of people from their homes.
The security source said the attacker blew himself up in the town of Djakana near the Nigerian border overnight.
“Seven people were killed immediately, including the bomber. Four others later succumbed to their wounds. Others who were wounded are in hospital. We fear the number of victims could rise,” he said.
Most of the victims were members of a local vigilante group tasked with hunting down Boko Haram fighters.
They were said to have gathered in a video centre when the suicide bomber stormed the room and triggered his explosives.
Boko Haram’s seven-year insurgency has left at least 20,000 people dead in Nigeria and the border areas of neighbouring Niger, Chad and Cameroon. It has also rendered more than 2.6 million people homeless.
Some 2,000 Chadian soldiers are set to launch a counter-offensive against the group in the region, as part of a fight back by the four countries targeted by the group.
Boko Haram has regularly used women and children to stage suicide bombings, targeting mosques, markets, bus stations and checkpoints.
But the overnight attack comes after a lull in violence in this border zone near Nigeria.
The UN humanitarian coordinator for Cameroon, Najat Rochdi warned this month that unabated attacks by the Boko Haram had sparked food insecurity and driven 190,000 people from their homes, thereby creating a fertile ground for recruitment by the deadly sect.
Rochdi had said that Boko Haram members were attacking villages and food supply routes as well as burning homes and fields across northern Cameroon on a daily basis.
She said that in the last six months alone, the number of Cameroonians displaced within their own country had jumped from 60,000 to 190,000.
In addition, Cameroon is hosting 60,000 refugees from Nigeria and another 312,000 from the Central African Republic, amounting to more than 500,000 displaced people in all.
The number at risk of going hungry has soared from 900,000 to 2.4 million since January.
“It is a kind of silent crisis, which is really the danger,” Rochdi said, warning that if humanitarian needs were not addressed in Cameroon, “we will see a radicalisation” of young people in the country.