Two suicide bombers killed nine other people and wounded 30 on Friday near a camp in northern Cameroon housing civilians displaced by Nigeria’s Boko Harammilitants, the region’s governor and other officials said.
The bombers – both men – entered the town of Kolofata, around 10 kilometres from the border with Nigeria, before dawn on Friday, posing as refugees looking for food before the start of the daytime fast for Ramadan.
“Once among the population, they detonated their explosives, one after the other. The official death toll is 11, including the two suicide bombers, and 30 wounded,” Mindjiyawa Bakary, governor of Cameroon’s Far North region, told Reuters.
A local government official said 10 of the wounded had been transported to a hospital in a nearby town with serious injuries.
“It was unbearable. People were screaming. Others were moaning. It was total horror,” said a policeman present at the scene of the bombing.
Northern Cameroon has in recent years suffered from the overflow of violence linked to Nigeria’s Boko Haram Islamist insurgents. Nigerian refugees have flooded across the border and local residents have been forced to flee their homes.
Boko Haram launches frequent cross-border raids in its bid to carve out an Islamic caliphate. Its eight-year insurgency has killed more than 20,000 people and displaced two million in the Lake Chad region.
Villages and towns in the area have regularly been targeted by suicide bombers.
The officials said that Friday’s bombing came a day after suicide bombers – two young girls – detonated their explosives in the nearby village of Djakana, lightly injuring two members of a local civilian self-defence force.
Kolofata has repeatedly been struck by suicide bombings in the past, including one attack that killed nine people in September 2015.
Nigeria’s army has retaken much of the territory once occupied by Boko Haram, and a military coalition of regional neighbours has helped fight the Islamist insurgents across the borders in Niger, Chad and Cameroon.
The Cameroonian government has deployed thousands of soldiers, including elite units, to the Far North region.
But large parts of northeastern Nigeria and surrounding border zones remain under threat from the militants.