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Gov’t Fortifies Vigilante Groups Fighting Boko Haram 

By Basil Afoni

Members of a vigilante group fighting Boko Haram

Members of a vigilante group fighting Boko Haram

Following orders from President Paul Biya for the government to strengthen local efforts to combat Boko Haram, the Governor of the North Region, Midjiyawa Bakari November 3 handed down security equipment to local vigilante groups.

The equipment consisted of metal detectors, microphones, telescopes, whistles, boots, flashlights, knives, metal detectors , torch lamps and light firearms, amongst others.

As part of its multi-pronged approach in the fight against Islamic State-affiliated Boko Haram Islamist militants, the Cameroon government has been enlisting local vigilante groups to detect and identify suspected militants as well as pinpoint their hideouts to the military for subsequent offensives. In some cases, the vigilantes have directly confronted the militants.

Bakari told the vigilante groups, while handing over the fresh equipment at an official ceremony, that the security materials are intended to make their work more effective as they see that Boko Haram activities in the territory come to an end.

“The Head of State Paul Biya has instructed that significant support be given to these young warriors who are based in towns and villages of the Far North. Having noticed that the vigilante groups work with assiduity and enthusiasm, he decided to put the security materials at their disposal to boost their operational capacity on the field,” Bakari said.

“At one moment, we discovered that members of the vigilante groups had many difficulties to identify Boko Haram militants from a distance. I believe that with the material, they will be able to see Boko Haram insurgents from a long distance and intercept them when need be using the megaphones.”

Some local vigilante members have lost their lives in the fight against Boko Haram, as the Islamists have been targeting civilians believed to be cooperating with the authorities to root them out.

Authorities believe the vigilantes have been able to minimize the flow and infiltration of Boko Haram fighters in the northern part of the country.

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