Cameroon army vessel capsizes, dozens missing

Cameroon’s elite Rapid Intervention Brigade is in the front line of the country’s fight against Islamic State-affiliated Boko Haram jihadists (AFP Photo/HO)

A Cameroon army vessel transporting “dozens” of troops from the elite Rapid Intervention Brigade capsized on Sunday off the country’s southwestern coast, a security source told AFP.

The boat “capsized on Sunday between the city of Limbe and Bakassi. There were dozens of troops on board, including a colonel,” the source told AFP, speaking on condition of anonymity.

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The Rapid Intervention Brigade is in the front line of Cameroon’s fight against Boko Haram jihadists in the far north.

“The army has begun searches,” the source said, while another source close to the Cameroon army said at least one body had been recovered.

As well as the troops the boat was also transporting equipment for construction work at a military base on the Bakassi peninsula, where the Brigade has helped to bring security after a previous spate of hostage-takings.

Though Boko Haram originated in Nigeria, the Islamic State-affiliated group has carried out frequent attacks in Cameroon, Chad and Niger.

Cameroon’s Far North region, which borders Nigeria, has seen a resurgence in attacks blamed on Boko Haram after months of relative calm.

Last week two bombers blew themselves up in northeastern Cameroon killing 15 people in an attack blamed on Boko Haram.

Some 200,000 Cameroonians from the Far North region have fled their villages in fear of the violence.

According to Wikipedia, the Cameroonian Armed Forces generally has been an apolitical force where civilian control of the military predominates.

Traditional dependence on the French defense capability, although reduced, continues to be the case as French military advisers remain closely involved in preparing the Cameroonian forces for deployment to the contested Bakassi Peninsula.

The armed forces number 14,200 personnel in ground, air, and naval forces.

There are approximately 12,500 troops in the army across three military regions.

Approximately 1,300 troops are part of the Cameroonian Navy, which is headquartered at Douala.

Under 400 troops are part of the Air Force.

There is an additional 9,000 paramilitary troops that serve as a gendarmerie (policing force) or reconnaissance role.

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