Fighters from the Boko Haram armed group have killed at least 16 people in an attack on a camp for displaced people in northern Cameroon, an official has said.
“The toll is currently 16 dead; it is clear that it was Boko Haram that was responsible,” local mayor Mahamat Chetima Abba told the AFP news agency on Sunday following the overnight attack on the Nguetchewe camp.
At least six have been wounded in the attack, according to reports citing local sources.
The assailants in the early hours of Sunday threw a grenade into a group of sleeping people inside the camp, home to 800 people, in the village of Nguetchewe, Medjeweh Boukar, district mayor, told Reuters news agency.
The village is located in the Mozogo district, close to the Nigerian border in the Far North region.
Another local politician, speaking on condition of anonymity, described the area where the attack took place as one in which people would “hide” from Boko Haram attacks.
The armed group, formed in northeastern Nigeria in 2009, has regularly launched attacks there since 2014, staging small-scale raids aimed at stealing livestock and food.
The area is known as the Far North, an impoverished tongue of land that lies between Chad to the east and Nigeria to the west.
“There had been a relative calm for a few weeks, but they took advantage of their knowledge of the terrain to bypass surveillance points and the positions of the security forces. They surprised us,” Abba said.
“I counted 15 bodies, some of which were dismembered, at the scene and in the morgue at the hospital, where the wounded were evacuated,” a witness to the attack, who also asked to remain anonymous told AFP.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility. Boko Haram launched an armed campaign in northeastern Nigeria in 2009, and the violence – which has cost the lives of tens of thousands of people and displaced millions more – has frequently spilled over into neighbouring Cameroon, Niger and Chad.
A security official told Reuters that the wounded were taken to a nearby hospital.
“The attackers arrived with a woman who carried the grenade into the camp,” Boukar said, adding that women and children were among the dead.
Over the past month, there have been 20 incursions and attacks, Boukar said.
In Chad on Friday Boko Haram killed at least 10 civilians and kidnapped seven others in an attack on a village in the Lake Chad region.
A week before Sunday’s attack the Cameroon army announced they had killed five Boko Haram fighters.
In June last year, some 300 suspected Boko Haram fighters swarmed onto an island on Lake Chad in Cameroon’s Far North and killed 24 people, including 16 Cameroonian soldiers stationed at military outposts.