Yaoundé — An attack by Boko Haram jihadists in northern Cameroon last weekend left 37 dead, a security official in the region said on Wednesday, revising the toll upward.
“As of today, we have 21 military and 16 civilian fatalities,” the source said. An earlier toll said at least 26 people — 17 soldiers and nine civilians — had died, in one of the deadliest attacks in Cameroon by the Nigerian-based group.
The jihadists, armed with rocket launchers, attacked military positions on Darak, an island near Lake Chad in Cameroon’s Far North region.
Fierce fighting broke out with the soldiers, which included the Cameroonian army and troops from the Multinational Joint Task Force, a five-nation anti-jihadist mission. The assailants succeeded in raising their black flag before being repelled.
About 40 assailants were captured, another security source said.
Most of the military fatalities were sailors who had been sent to the Lake Chad region as part of the fight against Boko Haram, he said.
Boko Haram has led a decade-long uprising to establish a hardline Islamic state in Nigeria’s northeast, killing more than 27,000 people and leaving 1.8-million homeless.
The insurgency has spilled into the Lake Chad region, the crossroads between Nigeria, Niger, Chad and Cameroon, inflicting heavy loss of life, mass displacement and economic damage.
The multinational task force, headquartered in the Chadian capital N’Djamena, pools troops from Benin, Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria.
Cameroon’s armed forces are also grappling with an armed revolt by separatists in two English-speaking regions in the west of the country.
According to the International Crisis Group think tank, 1,850 people have been killed in the domestic insurgency, while more than 530,000 people have been forced from their homes, according to UN figures.