On Tuesday, October 23, 800 Nigerian troops, including immigration and intelligence officers, deployed to positions across Cross River state in response to deteriorating security conditions in neighboring Cameroon. The deployment, called "Operation Crocodile Smile III," aims to reduce arms trafficking in Ikang and mercenary recruitment throughout Cross River state by Anglophone separatist groups. The ultimate goal of the operation is to reduce criminal activity in Cross River state in advance of the 2019 elections. Violence and unrest in response to the deployment cannot be ruled out in the near term.
In previous "Crocodile Smile" operations (I and II), the Nigerian army arrested dozens of suspected criminals before ultimately reducing its regional presence. A similar course of action is likely in this most recent iteration. Cross River state has seen an increasing amount of unrest and violence in the past month, as the conflict in Cameroon threatens to spill across the Nigerian border.
Currently, roughly 40,000 Cameroonians are refugees in Cross River state. That number may increase given the current violence and unrest in northern Cameroon.
Individuals in Cross River state are advised to monitor developments to the situation, remain vigilant for militant activity, avoid protests and demonstrations, report all suspicious objects or behavior to police, and adhere to all instructions issued by the local authorities and their home governments.
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