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More than 10,000 panic-stricken Cameroonians are fleeing border regions with Nigeria's Borno state after attacks by Nigeria's Islamic militant group Boko Haram, government officials said.
Boko Haram has, in the past month, raided at least two dozen villages and towns in northern Cameroon. The group also kidnapped at least 80 people during an attack on Mabass village on Sunday although the army has now rescued 30 hostages.
Cameroon's minister of territorial administration and decentralisation Rene Emmanuel Sadi said the insurgents are looting food and livestock, and a humanitarian and food crisis looms.
Cameroon's Minister of Communication Issa Tchiroma Bakary has told ITV News' Africa Correspondent John Ray the militant group Boko Haram kidnapped nearly 80 people from Cameroon to use them as suicide bombers.
Mr Bakary described the Islamist terror group as "cruel and cowardly" and said the Cameroon government was prepared to chase them "wherever necessary" in order to "root them out".
Troops from Cameroon have rescued up to 30 of the 80 hostages during a cross-border attack in Nigeria.
Cameroon's army has freed 24 of some 80 hostages kidnapped during a cross-border attack by suspected Boko Haram fighters based in neighbouring Nigeria, a defence ministry spokesman has said.
Correcting an earlier estimate that 30 hostages had been freed, Colonel Didier Badjeck said:
Around 30 of up to 80 hostages taken by Boko Haram have been released, Cameroon military said.
Some are said to have escaped while others were freed during a gun fight between the militant group and soldiers.
Military spokesman Colonel Didier Badjeck revealed some of the militants used hostages as human shields.
He did not know how many people were killed and it is not clear how many of those freed were children, following reports up to 50 had been captured.
Suspected Boko Haram fighters torched around 80 homes as they kidnapped dozens of people - including around 50 children - in raids on villages in northern Cameroon, an official has said.
"There was a Boko Haram attack on several localities in the Far North region," Cameroon government spokesman Issa Tchiroma said. "The assailants burnt down about 80 homes and kidnapped several inhabitants including women and very young children."
The latest attack occurred days after Amnesty International released satellite images showing the devastation caused by Boko Haram in two Nigerian towns.
The Islamist militant group has stepped up attacks in the region as Nigeria prepares for a February 14 presidential election.
The early morning kidnapping of 80 people - including around 50 girls and boys - in northern Cameroon is among the largest abductions in the country since Boko Haram fighters ventured over the border from Nigeria last year.
A senior army officer said soldiers intervened and exchanged fire with the fighters for around two hours but could not rescue those taken.
The latest raids on Mabass and several other villages along the border came as neighbouring Chad deployed troops to support Cameroon's forces in the area.
Suspected Boko Haram fighters have kidnapped around 80 people, including some 50 children, in Cameroon, officials said.
A senior army officer said fighters from Nigeria launched the cross-border attack on the northern village of Mabass.
He said the children were aged between 10 and 15 and added that the adults were mainly herders.
A Cameroon government spokesman said three people had been killed in the attack but could not confirm the number taken.
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Troops from Chad join in the battle against the terror group after it kidnapped 80 people including 50 children from Cameroon.