Cameroon recaptures northern town from Boko Haram

YAOUNDE – A coalition of Cameroonian and Chadian troops on Wednesday recaptured Fotokol, a town in northern Cameroon near the border with Nigeria, Cameroonian military and security sources have said.

The town was captured earlier in the day by militants from the Boko Haram organization, which is most active in Nigeria and has become a destabilizing force for neighboring countries in recent months.

Coalition troops faced tough resistance from Boko Haram, especially after the militant movement controlled a bridge over the El Beid river in Cameroon. The bridge was the main supply route for Chadian troops taking part in the battles.

Chadian troops had to retreat soon after the militants captured the bridge.

The sources said airstrikes were launched against Boko Haram, while troops in Gamboru, a Nigerian town close to Fotokol, opened their gunfire on the Boko Haram elements, opening the door for the recapture of the town.

The sources, meanwhile, said around 300 Boko Haram fighters were killed in the battles on Wednesday.

They added that seven Cameroonian troops and 16 Chadian troops were also killed in the same battles along with dozens of civilians.

Fotokol was captured Wednesday morning by Boko Haram militants, a security source told the Anadolu Agency earlier.

"Following heavy fighting, the Cameroonian-Chadian force was forced to make a tactical retreat from the city," the source added on condition of anonymity.

According to the source, at least three Cameroonian troops were killed, along with several civilians.

"There were at least three fatalities among the ranks of the Cameroonian soldiers, as well as civilian losses. Boko Haram elements torched all the houses in their way and several people were slaughtered," he said.

In recent months, Boko Haram – which operates mainly in neighboring Nigeria – has stepped up attacks on Cameroonian troops and civilians, especially in Cameroon's Extreme North region.

Around 123 Boko Haram militants have been killed in clashes with Chadian troops since the latter arrived in Cameroon on Jan. 16, the Chadian army announced on Saturday.

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