Rights group Amnesty accuses Cameroon of excessive force in stopping terror group Boko Haram

Security forces making situation worse by 'shocking' treatment of already-traumatised civilians, London-based group says.

CAMEROON security forces trying to quell attacks by Islamist militant group Boko Haram in the country’s north have intensified the violence by using excessive force against civilians, Amnesty International said.

Cameroon’s security forces have committed human-rights violations in their campaign against the group, arresting people arbitrarily and keeping some in detention in conditions that have led to their deaths, the London-based rights group said Wednesday in a report.

More than 1,000 people, mostly men and boys, have been held after mass raids on villages by security forces, it said.

“The scale and depravity of Boko Haram’s attacks is appalling and more must be done to protect civilians,” said Alioune Tine, Amnesty’s director for West and Central Africa.

“But it is shocking that an army which is supposed to protect civilians from Boko Haram has committed atrocities themselves.”

Minister of Communication Issa Tchiroma and army spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Didier Badjeck didn’t answer at least four calls to their mobile phones seeking comment.

Boko Haram, which is based in neighbouring Nigeria, has killed at least 380 people in northern Cameroon since it began attacking villages in the region in January 2014.

The group has committed war crimes and abductions and used young girls as suicide bombers, according to Amnesty.

Boko Haram began its insurgency to establish a strict version of Islamic law in Nigeria about six years ago. Regional leaders agreed to deploy a joint military force to push back the group after hundreds of people died this year in cross-border attacks in Cameroon, Niger and Chad.

—With assistance from Pius Lukong in Yaounde. (Bloomberg)

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