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Cameroon: 'Motives of Cameroon's armed groups are vague'

Security - Various armed groups which have been operating for about 20 years in the Cameroonian land and maritime borders with Nigeria, Chad and Central African Republic (CAR), have never unveiled the real motives for their attacks and kidnapping, a Cameroonian military officer has said.

'Except Commander Ebi Dari, chief of the Bakassi Freedom Fighters, the Nigerian armed group, who said they sent a document, three months before the attack on a vessel belonging to the French group Bourbon Sagitta, on its demands related to peace talks in Bakassi, no other group has, officially, given the reasons behind their acts,” Lieutenant-Colonel Didier Badjeck, from the Communication Department at the Cameroonian ministry of Defence, told PANA.

The Bakassi Freedom Fighters in November 2008, bordered the vessel of the French group Bourbon Sagitta, operating off the coast of the Bakassi peninsula, at the Nigerian border, taking 10 hostages including six Frenchmen.

However, a geo-strategist, Daniel Abwa, says it is the government that has never disclosed the reasons for those attacks.

He said: “Even though the armed groups gave the reasons behind their acts each time they perpetrated an attack, be sure the Cameroonian government wouldn’t make them available to the public. One thing is sure; those groups don’t perpetrate attacks for nothing. They are always looking for something.'

Abwa stressed that the occupation and attack zones or localities, targeted by several armed groups, were significant.

For example, northern Cameroon, where Peuls and other local ethnic groups live and breed livestock, and which has a porous 1,600 km of border line between Cameroon and Nigeria, is favourable to Boko Haram, which finds interdependent and welcoming populations easy to dispossess of their fortunes.

According to Shanda Tomne, a Cameroonian diplomat, the acts perpetrated by Boko Haram, could be to internationalise the Islamist movement.

This is not the case of other armed groups operating at the Cameroonian border with Chad on the one hand, and Central African Republic on the other.

Here, the armed groups, which operate in eastern and north-west of Cameroon, including in the great majority former soldiers or Chadian and CAR rebels, are looking for money, weapons and other natural resources for their war chest, said Alain Foguié, a political expert and university professor.

Pana 25/01/2014