Unidentified gunmen attacked the Ekok border crossing connecting Nigeria’s Cross River state and Cameroon’s Southwest region on Thursday, January 25, at approximately 03:00 (local time). According to local security sources, the assailants, who approached form the Nigerian side of the border, were carrying heavy weapons and shooting indiscriminately; the shooting reportedly lasted nearly three hours, forcing the temporary closure of the border crossing. The attackers also reportedly used explosives to destroy two vehicles belonging to the Cameroonian BIR (Rapid Intervention Brigade). According to an official source there were no casualties, although conflicting reports indicate several people were wounded.
Furthermore, according to a Nigerian military spokesman, Nigerian authorities had spotted armed men on the Cameroonian side of the border, but denied that they had either crossed from or into Nigeria.
Further such attacks are possible in the coming weeks.
Thousands of refugees fleeing violence in Cameroonian Anglophone regions (Southwest and Northwest regions) have taken refuge into Nigeria in the past months. According to the Emergency services from Cross River, more than 33,000 Cameroonian nationals are currently seeking refuge in the state.
Simmering resentment in the anglophone regions that dates back to the period of independence has resurfaced within the minority English-speaking community in Cameroon's Northwest and Southwest regions since November 2016. Tensions between English- and French-speaking communities have escalated considerably since October 2017, when secessionists unilaterally proclaimed independence in the region. Cameroonian authorities fear that Nigeria could be used as a base for Anglophone secessionists.
Individuals in the border area between Cameroon and Nigeria are advised to closely monitor the situation and adhere to advice issued by local authorities and their home governments.
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