Boko Haram is taking advantage of coronavirus lockdowns by increasing attacks in Cameroon and Nigeria. Over the weekend and into Monday, the terrorists attacked villages in both countries, local media reported on Tuesday.
On Sunday night, Boko Haram killed at least ten people in a suicide bombing in Blama Kamsoulou, a northern village of Cameroon along the country’s border with Nigeria. According to a statement released by the Cameroon government on Monday, two male suicide bombers were seen by civilians on Sunday near a local primary school. When the terrorists realized they had been spotted, they reportedly rushed into a nearby residence and detonated the explosives they had on them.
Following the bombing, at least 70 local residents fled the area fearing further attacks. Although the Cameroonian military said it had secured the zone on Tuesday, civilians reportedly believe Boko Haram terrorists infiltrated surrounding villages and remain in the area. Despite calls by Cameroon on Tuesday for residents to return home, many locals refused to, fearing Boko Haram is making a powerful comeback.
A Blama Kamsoulou community official, Adamu Sidiki, told Voice of America on Tuesday that “it is high time Cameroon protected its citizens by redeploying its military to border zones that terrorists are again occupying.”
Sidiki pointed out that it was “barely two weeks ago” when “the terrorist group killed at least  Chadian soldiers in the nearby Boma Peninsula.”
Sidiki referred to an attack on March 22 in which Boko Haram killed at least 92 Chadian soldiers on an army base on Boma Peninsula, located in the Lac province near the border with Nigeria and Niger. It was the deadliest attack on Chad’s military forces. The next day, on March 23, Boko Haram carried out a separate attack in Nigeria, killing at least 50 Nigerian soldiers in an ambush near Goneru village in northern Yobe state. Similar to the attack in Chad, this ambush was one of the deadliest attacks against Nigerian troops recently, wiping out an entire artillery unit.
On Monday evening, Boko Haram insurgents attacked Kirchinga, a village in northeastern Nigeria currently on lockdown to contain the spread of coronavirus in the area. According to locals, Boko Haram terrorists went on a rampage, looting shops and destroying houses. Many people were feared dead following the attack.
Kumangar Baba, a local resident, said his house was destroyed by Boko Haram after the insurgents stormed the village in trucks and on motorcycles. “We saw hell because the terrorists pounced on us…they opened fire and people started screaming for their lives,” Baba said.
“They burnt my house and carted away valuables … many are feared killed,” he added.
Other residents said that Nigerian troops later fought off the Boko Haram insurgents. One local said, “The destruction would have been worse, but for the timely response of the soldiers stationed in Kirchinga.”
A Nigerian army lieutenant-colonel, head of troops in the region, later confirmed the attack in Kirchinga, a former Boko Haram operational base. “Yes, there was an attack, but it was repelled,” he said.
The recent assaults demonstrate Boko Haram’s expanding jihadist campaign in this region, part of the vast Lake Chad area. In recent months, the terrorist group has stepped up its attacks in the area.
The United Nations estimates Boko Haram has killed 36,000 people and displaced nearly two million in northeastern Nigeria. Regional militaries have struggled to cope with the jihadist insurgency, as evidenced by the unprecedented losses sustained during the attacks in March. In 2015, several countries formed the Multinational Joint Force in an attempt to curb jihadist activity in the Lake Chad area.