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Cameroon has expelled thousands of Nigerians as part of its effort to halt attacks by neighboring Islamist extremists, according to Cameroonian officials Tuesday.
Boko Haram, based in northeastern Nigeria, has orchestrated a six-year insurgency that's led to hundreds of kidnappings and thousands of deaths, directly affecting neighboring nations.
President Muhammadu Buhari won Nigeria's March election with promises of toppling Boko Haram, reports The Christian Science Monitor.
The group, a toxic mixture of criminals, thugs, and young religious radicals, has declared its intent to create an Islamic caliphate [in Nigeria]. An estimated 55,000 persons have been killed in often random attacks against Christians and Muslims alike.
By the beginning of 2015, Boko Haram succeeded in creating a network of interlocking towns and contiguous territory in the northeast. A concerted effort by Nigeria and the forces of Chad and Cameroon helped break up those gains, even before Buhari took office.
Four suspected Boko Haram suicide bombings were carried out in Cameroon in July, and scores of locals and foreigners have been accused of collaborating with the extremist group.
Most recently, seven people were killed and 20 others kidnapped in a Cameroonian town early Tuesday morning, Reuters reports.
In addition to expelling roughly 3,000 people from its territory, Cameroon also deployed further military support along its borders and sealed its frontier with Nigeria, banning overnight travel, according to Voice of America.
Cameroonian officials said that those deported were refugees who weren’t staying in official camps and lacked identification, the Associated Press reports.
The U.N. refugee agency says a camp in Cameroon's Far North Region now hosts about 44,000 people and estimates there are 12,000 unregistered refugees in the region.
In Nigeria, many of those expelled said they were forced out quickly.
"It was a terrible journey. We spent almost six days on the road ...," said Musa Kawuri, a 52-year-old trader. "We initially pleaded with the Cameroonian officials to give us grace of some days," but were put in trucks.
Adamawa State Emergency Management Agency chairman Haruna Hamman Furo said 12,000 Nigerians are expected to arrive from Cameroon.
Today, a US Congressional delegation in Nigeria said the US is prepared to provide training for Nigeria’s military in order to help it defeat the Islamist extremist group.
Nigeria has requested weapons in the past, with President Buhari saying last month that the US was aiding Boko Haram’s insurgency by refusing to sell the West African nation helicopters. The sale of high-tech arms to countries facing credible allegations of human rights abuses – as is the case in Nigeria – is prohibited under the US Leahy Act.
According to Amnesty International, Nigeria has conducted extrajudicial killings and torture of an estimated 8,000 people suspected of involvement with Boko Haram.