Boko Haram: Children feared to be among victims of bomb attack on military checkpoint

Attack in Nigeria came a day after assault on soldiers in Cameroon

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The Independent Online

Children are feared to be among the victims of a suspected Boko Haram bomb attack at a military checkpoint in Nigeria.

Three explosions struck near the north-eastern town of Biu on Thursday in quick succession, a frequent tactic of the Islamist group, which has not yet claimed responsibility.

Witness Auwalu Ibrahim, a local pro-government vigilante, said there were children around the checkpoint when the blasts went off.

“Everyone has been told to go home due to apprehension about the blasts,” he added.

Biu has been repeatedly attacked by Boko Haram militants, including a suicide bombing on Thursday that killed at least seven people at a market.

Today’s attack came less than a day after five Cameroonian soldiers were killed at a base near the Nigerian border.

Colonel Joseph Nouma said hundreds of suspected Boko Haram militants escaped back to Nigeria after looting scores of homes in the area around Waza and setting them on fire as they fled.

The renewed cross-border violence came as politicians from 10 central African countries were ending a meeting in Yaounde, the capital of Cameroon, to plan a joint military strategy to tackle the growing regional threat posed by Boko Haram.

Its assaults on the Nigerian military and civilians have killed thousands since the group launched its violent campaign to establish a hardline Islamic caliphate in 2009.

After five years fighting the Nigerian government in a bloody insurgency from strongholds in the north, Boko Haram has started to push into neighbouring Niger, Chad and Cameroon.

The group has become the main threat to the stability of Africa's biggest economy and leading oil producer, as well as to the surrounding region.

A Cameroon soldier holds a position on February 16, 2015 near the village of Mabass, northern Cameroon.

On Monday Boko Haram released a statement threatening to launch suicide bombings in Niger, Chad and any other countries joining the international military coalition fighting it.

In a translation published by the SITE Intelligence Group, a spokesperson said Niger was being dragged into a “swamp of darkness” after striking the town of Diffa.

“If you insist on continuing the aggression and the coalition with the government of Chad, then we give you glad tidings that the land of Niger is easier than the land of Nigeria and moving the war to the depth of your cities will be the first reaction toward any aggression that occurs after this statement,” the statement said.

People displaced as a result of Boko Haram attacks in Nigeria, in a camp for internally displaced people in Yola, Adamawa State.

Tens of thousands of people marched through Niger's capital of Niamey on Tuesday to support the military following a series of Boko Haram attacks along the border.

Nigerian soldiers recaptured two towns on Monday as the US and regional troops began manoeuvres in Chad as part of a growing international campaign.

AN62088845Chadian soldiers .jpg
Chadian soldiers gather near the Nigerian town of Gamboru, just across the border from Cameroon. Chadian forces retook the town from Boko Haram, which seized control months ago

Boko Haram was cited as a reason for postponing the election that was due to take place on Saturday by six weeks.

Its insurgency left an estimated 10,000 people dead last year alone. The violence has forced some 157,000 people to seek refuge in Niger, while 40,000 others have gone to Cameroon and 17,000 are in Chad, the UN said.

Additional reporting by agencies