LAGOS, Nigeria (AP) — Cameroonian security forces have unlawfully killed dozens of civilians and tortured and forced the disappearances of others in mass arrests of suspects in fighting the Boko Haram Islamic insurgency, Amnesty International said Thursday.
The London-based organization accused forces operating in Cameroon's Far North province, bordering northeast Nigeria, of crimes under international law.
Cameroon's information minister, Issa Tchiroma Bakary, said the report was biased and told reporters that the human rights organization has never raised concerns about more than 2,000 Cameroonians killed in the Boko Haram uprising.
The Associated Press has quoted refugees who fled into Nigeria as saying that Cameroonian troops were indiscriminately killing civilians and looting and destroying property.
"Two prisoners were beaten up so badly that they died in front of us ... That night, we slept in the cell with two dead bodies," Amnesty quoted a 70-year old detainee as saying.
Secret service agents also have tortured suspects in Yaounde, the report said.
Arrests based on little information and arbitrary criteria have led to horrific prison conditions, Amnesty said, with nearly 1,500 people held in a building designed for 350 in the town of Kossa in February 2015.
More than 1,000 people have been detained and between six and eight die each month from malnutrition, disease and torture in the prison in Maroua city, the report said.
Amnesty International said it interviewed more than 160 people including victims, witnesses and a senior military officer during three trips to Cameroon in 2015.
The organization has documented similar abuses by security forces in Nigeria.
The Boko Haram uprising has killed more than 20,000 people over seven years.
The Amnesty report also accused Boko Haram of crimes under international law. The insurgency has left more than 2 million homeless, most in northeast Nigeria.