Boko Haram capped off its headline-rich year with a series of raids over the past two weeks against Nigeria’s eastern neighbor, Cameroon. These new attacks are more serious than the cross-border sorties of the past few months; the militants raised their flag over the Cameroonian city of Achigachia, a clear declaration of its new territorial goals. While Cameroon’s army swiftly flushed out the attackers with a coordinated airstrike, the incident hilighted the problematic lack of international cooperation in the region. As Africa Presse reports [translated from the French]:
The towns of Makary, Amchidé, Limani, and Achigachia, all considered part of the front line against Boko Haram, were the target of coordinated attacks, killing Cameroonian soldiers and civil servants. The Cameroonian defense forces, which cannot exercise their right of pursuit across Nigerian territory, are often attacked by surprise. In their reprisals, they inflict very heavy losses in both matériel and in human lives.
In Nigeria, the Islamist insurgents face a stalemate after a months-long campaign failed to capture Maiduguri, Borno’s regional capital, earlier this year. However, they seem to be exploiting regional tensions and bureaucratic divisions to establish a force around the border between Cameroon and Nigeria.France has begun to react to this new threat to its former colonies in the region, and has inaugurated a new regional coalition against Boko Haram. But longstanding mistrust between Nigeria and its neighbors hinders these large-scale international efforts, and it remains to be seen whether an outside facilitator can help. But given Boko Haram’s ambition to build an Islamic state from the territory of multiple countries, international cooperation will be sorely and increasingly needed.