YAOUNDE, CAMEROON - Villagers along Cameroon's northern border with Chad and Nigeria have been holding daily protests in front of government offices demanding that the military intervene and deploy troops in areas where attacks by Boko Haram have increased. Protesters say in the past three weeks alone, at least 35 villagers were killed after an alleged attack by the Islamist militant group
Village leaders blame Islamist fighters with the terrorist group Boko Haram for killing at least 35 people in the past three weeks and stealing livestock and food. They raised money for villagers to travel to the regional capital, Maroua to seek help from authorities.
Pastor Joseph Bayoha of the Evangelical Church of Cameroon in Tourou, a village on the border with Nigeria, said villagers came to tell the governor that a day hardly goes by without reports of Boko Haram fighters abusing or killing civilians and stealing their food and cattle.
Bayoha said villagers in Cameroon's north want the government to immediately deploy troops to protect them and their property and bring back peace, adding they feel abandoned by Cameroon's military and government to face Boko Haram alone.
Village leaders said Boko Haram infiltrated the northern towns of Kolofata and Amchide and the villages of Tourou, Gambarou and Kumshe.
Midjiyawa Bakari, Governor of Cameroon's Far North region, told state broadcaster Cameroon Radio Television villagers have not been abandoned by the military as they claim.
He said Cameroon President Paul Biya considers the pleas for more troop deployments legitimate, and should be ready to collaborate with troops that are already on their way to reinforce the military's presence along the border.
Bakari added that Biya ordered financial and material assistance to village militias that collaborate with troops in fighting the terrorist group Boko Haram. He did not give details on the assistance or how much money the militias would receive.
Bakari said many young people who defected from Boko Haram after the death of its leader, Abubakar Shekau, last year may be rejoining the group for lack of jobs.
He pleaded with them to be patient and said the government intends to provide subsidies to militants who surrender so they could do farming instead.
Cameroon's military on Saturday dismissed local media reports claiming troops meant for the Far North were sent instead to fight rebels in the western regions.
The military said troops were on standby to protect civilians wherever and whenever the need arises.