YAOUNDE/PARIS – Boko Haram gunmen killed a Chinese worker in Cameroon and kidnapped 10 others overnight, piling more pressure on leaders meeting in Paris on Saturday to thrash out a tougher strategy against the Nigerian Islamists.
Militants stormed an encampment used by Chinese road workers late Friday in a region of northern Cameroon just across the border from the strongholds where they sparked global outrage by abducting more than 200 schoolgirls last month.
“The Boko Haram militants were heavily armed, they came in five vehicles,” an official in Waza, a town near the site of the attack, said on condition of anonymity.
He said the camp where the Chinese road workers stayed was usually guarded by soldiers from Cameroon’s elite Rapid Intervention Battalion, but that many of the troops were in the capital, Yaounde, for a military parade to mark National Day on Tuesday.
“Cameroonian soldiers retaliated and the fighting lasted until 3:00 a.m.,” said a local police chief, who added the militants also raided the police armory in Waza overnight.
He said one Chinese worker was killed and 10 others had been missing since the attack and were believed kidnapped by the Boko Haram gunmen. A source close to the Chinese Embassy in Yaounde spoke of 10 missing and one wounded but would not confirm or deny whether one of the victims had been killed.
News of the latest attack came as west African and European leaders gathered for a special meeting in Paris aimed at ramping up action against the increasingly regionalized threat posed by Boko Haram. At the half-day summit, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan was expected to be pressed to seek much closer cooperation with Cameroon, Niger, Chad and Benin.
A long-running territorial dispute has soured relations between Nigeria and Cameroon, hampering any steps toward joint action against the militants.
“Boko Haram represents a risk to the stability of every state in the region, and the leaders of these countries have to be aware of that,” said a French diplomat.