September 3, 2015 / 12:10 PM / 2 years ago

Double suicide bombing in north Cameroon kills 19, wounds 143

YAOUNDE (Reuters) - A double suicide bombing killed 19 people and wounded 143 on Thursday in northern Cameroon, where soldiers are battling Boko Haram fighters from Nigeria, officials said.

The attacks targeted Kerawa, a town in the Far North region that was the scene of clashes between the militants and government soldiers in February. One blast hit a camp housing infantry fighting the Islamists, while another was at a market.

A local government official said he had been told the attacks were carried out by female suicide bombers.

Boko Haram has stepped up attacks on Chad, Niger and Cameroon, all of which border its northeast Nigerian stronghold, after they took part in an offensive against it this year.

No one claimed responsibility for Thursday’s attacks but the Islamist fighters were blamed for a series of suicide bombings in the town of Maroua, also in the Far North, that killed dozens of people in July.

Cameroon has sent thousands of troops to its northern border where militants carry out regular raids, killing some villagers and kidnapping others.

The African neighbors’ combined military offensive dislodged Boko Haram earlier this year from much of the territory it had captured in Nigeria, but the jihadists have since reverted to a pattern of hit-and-run attacks.

In a separate attack that bore the hallmarks of Boko Haram, military sources said gunmen killed at least five villagers in northern Nigeria on Wednesday before being repelled by government troops.

The group’s six-year-old insurgency to establish an Islamist state in northeast Nigeria has killed thousands of people, displaced around 1.5 million internally and forced thousands to flee into neighboring Cameroon, Niger and Chad.

In March, Boko Haram pledged allegiance to Islamic State, which controls parts of Iraq and Syria.

Reporting by Sylvain Andzongo in Yaounde and Josiane Kouagheu in Douala, Writing by Joe Bavier and Matthew Mpoke Bigg, editing by Mark Trevelyan

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