DOUALA, Cameroon (AP) — Cameroon's government launched its first ever air strikes against Nigerian Islamic extremists to dislodge about 1,000 fighters who had seized a Cameroonian military base, a statement said Monday.
Fighters from Nigeria's home-grown Boko Haram extremist group attacked five villages in Cameroon, near its northern border with Nigeria, over three days before they over-ran the military base in the same area Sunday, the government said.
Two bombing raids and a heavy firefighting Monday sent the insurgents fleeing from the Achigachia base, it said.
President Paul Biya ordered the first ever air strikes against Boko Haram to respond to "a change of strategy on the part of the assailants," the statement said. It gave no death toll.
About 10 days ago, the extremists for the first time directly attacked Cameroonian troops, exploding an improvised roadside device as a convoy of troops was passing and attacking another military base in the border town Amchide with some 5,000 fighters, the government had reported.
A week ago, the government reported that Cameroonian troops dismantled a border training camp run by the insurgents and freed dozens of young recruits.
Neighboring countries increasingly are being drawn into Nigeria's 5-year Islamic uprising, which has killed thousands and driven 1.6 million people from their homes, including across borders into Cameroon, Niger and Chad.
Boko Haram has been recruiting fighters in all three countries.