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Cameroon Claims to have killed at least 60 Boko Haram fighters and Freed 5,000 Captives

Boko Haram's six-year insurgency has killed more than 25,000 people and displaced nearly 2.3 million, according to rights groups and the United Nations

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FILE - Cameroonian soldiers from the Rapid Intervention Brigade stand guard amidst dust kicked up by a helicopter in Kolofata, Cameroon, March 16, 2016.

Cameroon says it has killed at least 60 Boko Haram fighters and destroyed a stronghold for the militant group, as well as a huge stock of seized weapons, in fighting along its northern border.

Issa Tchiroma Bakary, Cameroon minister of communication and a government spokesperson, said, since January 26, thousands of Cameroon soldiers, supported by Nigerian troops, have launched raids on Boko Haram strongholds in the Mandara mountains, freeing more than 5,000 people, including women and children, from captivity.

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Issa Tchiroma said at least 60 terrorists have been killed since the offensive began in late January.

More than 20 suspects have been arrested and are helping the Cameroon and Nigerian militaries in their investigations, he added. He also said troops have destroyed a refuge center for the insurgents in the Mandara highlands, a petroleum depot and an explosives factory, as well as the residence of a Boko Haram leader, which also served as a hideout for the terrorists, and a huge consignment of weapons, vehicles and motorcycles.

Issa Tchiroma said at least 5,000 people were freed, including the elderly. They were transported to a camp for displaced people in the Nigerian town of Banki and are receiving treatment from both Cameroon and Nigerian military health workers, he said.

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No soldiers were killed in the offensive, Issa Tchiroma said.

In December last year, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari announced troops had chased Boko Haram militants out of their key remaining base in the Sambisa forest, another former stronghold that straddles Cameroon’s border with Nigeria.

Cameroon and Nigeria that same month reopened the border between the two countries for the first time in three years.

Cameroon has since called for vigilance and collaboration between its military and the population, stating that the insurgents had resorted to large-scale suicide bombings as their firepower had been greatly reduced.

Boko Haram’s six-year insurgency has killed more than 25,000 people and displaced nearly 2.3 million, according to rights groups and the United Nations. (VOA)

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United States Plans to Stop Preferential Trade Status of Cameroon in 2020

The 2000 law aims to stimulate U.S. trade and investment in sub-Saharan Africa and bolster economic growth in the region

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The 2000 law aims to stimulate United states trade and investment in sub-Saharan Africa and bolster economic growth in the region, primarily by enabling participating countries to market goods to the United States duty-free. Pixabay

United States to end Cameroon’s preferential trade status in 2020 because of alleged human rights violations, a charge the West African nation’s government disputes.

U.S. President Donald Trump announced his decision in a written message to Congress on Thursday, saying Cameroon’s government “engages in gross violations of internationally recognized human rights … [including] extrajudicial killings, arbitrary and unlawful detention, and torture.”

As of Jan. 1, Cameroon would be removed from the list of countries benefiting from the African Growth and Opportunity Act.  The 2000 law aims to stimulate U.S. trade and investment in sub-Saharan Africa and bolster economic growth in the region, primarily by enabling participating countries to market goods to the United States duty-free.

Participants’ responsibilities

Cameroon was among 39 countries participating as of last January. Participants must show evidence of working toward a market-based economy, upholding core labor standards, establishing the rule of law and respecting human rights.

Activist groups such as Human Rights Watch have reported “credible accounts of torture and abuse” in Cameroon, where a two-year crisis over Anglophone-speaking regions’ push for separation from the predominantly French-speaking country has left at least 2,000 people dead.

In August, for example, HRW said Cameroonian authorities had held more than 100 detainees for weeks in overcrowded conditions, subjected them to torture and delayed trials. Detainees complained of beatings “with wooden clubs and machetes.”

Trump blamed rights violations on the administration of Paul Biya, president since 1982.

Cameroon’s information minister, Rene Emmanuel, defended the government.

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President of United States- Donald Trump announced his decision in a written message to Congress on Thursday, saying Cameroon’s government “engages in gross violations of internationally recognized human rights … [including] extrajudicial killings, arbitrary and unlawful detention, and torture.” Pixabay

“We think Cameroon is certainly one of the countries in Africa [that] has done a lot in terms of democracy, in terms of promoting liberties,” he told VOA in a phone call Thursday from the capital, Yaounde.

But, he added, “Maybe there is a lot of injustice in our country where the respect of human rights is concerned. So I think we will have to look into this decision.”

Critical of treatment

Emmanuel said Cameroon’s government was being treated unfairly.

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Last year’s top United States exports to Cameroon included machinery, steel and iron products, and plastics. The top imports from Cameroon included mineral fuels, wood products and cocoa. Pixabay

“Bad things are committed by separatists and not widely condemned. The humanitarian organization … behaves as if they don’t see anything concerning all the atrocities or forces who are there to take our citizens,” he said, suggesting government security forces were “there to preserve the integrity of the country.”

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Cameroon is the United States’ 128th-largest trading partner, with $413 million worth of goods exchanged in 2018, according to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative. Last year’s top U.S. exports to Cameroon included machinery, steel and iron products, and plastics. The top imports from Cameroon included mineral fuels, wood products and cocoa. (VOA)