Boko Haram fighters surrender in northern Cameroon

In this Aug. 1, 2009 file photo, a suspected extremist member captured by Nigerian troops lies next to a tree in Maiduguri, Nigeria. (AP)
Updated 14 October 2017

Boko Haram fighters surrender in northern Cameroon

MOZOGO, Cameroon: Nearly 60 men who said they were captured by the Boko Haram Islamist group and forced to fight for them in Nigeria have surrendered to authorities in northern Cameroon.
After spending two years with Boko Haram, the men decided to flee with their families and hand themselves in, according to several men who had surrendered and spoke to journalists at a ceremony in the town of Mozogo on Friday.
A total of nearly 400 people originally from Cameroon — 58 men, 86 women and 244 children — said they had been taken hostage by Boko Haram fighters during attacks on their villages and taken to Nigeria, where they were forced to join the jihadist group.
The men told reporters they had fought for Boko Haram and were laying down their arms of their own will.
They surrendered at the border with Nigeria to a village vigilante group formed to combat the jihadists. The vigilantes then handed them over to the authorities.
Ousmane Kouila, head of the group, said they had been out on patrol in the border area when they met the fleeing Boko Haram fighters. “They said they were returning, and that they were surrendering,” he said.
The local governor went to meet them and ordered them to be moved away from the border to avoid any reprisals by Boko Haram.
“We are counting on them to also convince others who are hesitating (to surrender) and there are a lot of them they tell us,” said Midjiyawa Bakari, governor of the Far North region.
Authorities would provide the escapees with psychological help, he said.
“They have been through brainwashing, perhaps also having taken an oath on the Qur'an or made a blood pact,” the governor said, adding they needed help with “all they must have endured” in the hands of Boko Haram.
Boko Haram’s Islamist insurgency began in 2009 and has claimed at least 20,000 lives and forced more than 2.6 million from their homes.
The violence has largely been concentrated in northeast Nigeria but there have also been repeated attacks in Cameroon, as well as Chad and Niger.


UK PM Boris Johnson locks down England as COVID-19 cases pass 1 million

Updated 31 October 2020

UK PM Boris Johnson locks down England as COVID-19 cases pass 1 million

  • Lockdown starts just after midnight on Thursday morning
  • United Kingdom has the biggest official death toll in Europe from COVID-19

LONDON: Prime Minister Boris Johnson ordered England back into a national lockdown after the United Kingdom passed the milestone of one million COVID-19 cases and a second wave of infections threatened to overwhelm the health service.
The United Kingdom, which has the biggest official death toll in Europe from COVID-19, is grappling with more than 20,000 new coronavirus cases a day and scientists have warned the “worst case” scenario of 80,000 dead could be exceeded.
Johnson, at a hastily convened news conference in Downing Street after news of a lockdown leaked to local media, said that the one-month lockdown across England would kick in at a minute past midnight on Thursday morning and last until Dec. 2.
In some of the most onerous restrictions in Britain’s peacetime history, people will only be allowed to leave home for specific reasons such as education, work, exercise, shopping for essentials and medicines or caring for the vulnerable.
“Now is the time to take action because there is no alternative,” Johnson said, flanked by his chief medical officer, Chris Whitty, and his chief scientific adviser, Patrick Vallance.
The government will revive its emergency coronavirus wage subsidy scheme to ensure workers who are temporarily laid off during a new England-wide lockdown receive 80% of their pay.
Essential shops, schools, and universities will remain open, Johnson said. Pubs and restaurants will be shut apart from for takeaways. All non-essential retail will close.
Johnson’s imposition of stricter curbs came after scientists warned the outbreak was going in the wrong direction and that action was needed to halt the spread of the virus if families were to have any hope of gathering at Christmas.
Johnson was criticized by political opponents for moving too slowly into the first national lockdown, which stretched from March 23 to July 4. He fell ill with COVID in late March and was hospitalized in early April.
The measures bring England into alignment with France and Germany by imposing nationwide restrictions almost as severe as the ones that drove the global economy this year into its deepest recession in generations.
So far the United Kingdom has reported 46,555 COVID-19 deaths — defined as those dying within 28 days of a positive test. A broader death measure of those with COVID-19 on their death certificates gives the toll as 58,925.
The United Kingdom has the world’s fifth largest official death toll, after the United States, Brazil, India and Mexico, according to a Johns Hopkins University tally.