YAOUNDE, Cameroon (AP) — Thousands of Cameroonian youths marched through the capital Saturday to show support for the military's battle against attacks by neighboring Nigeria's Islamic extremists.
Boko Haram rebels have crossed over from Nigeria to attack towns in northern Cameroon. About 200 Cameroonian soldiers have been killed in the fighting, according to the demonstration's organizers, Cameroonian journalists who have reported on the fighting.
The demonstrators marched through Yaounde's streets, carrying the flags of Cameroon and Chad, two of the African countries that have deployed troops to help the Nigerian army to fight Boko Haram.
The march was a sign of solidarity for the millions of people suffering in Nigeria and neighboring countries as a result of Boko Haram's violence, Guibal Gatama, a journalist and the event's main organizer, told The Associated Press.
"It was very important for Cameroonians to come out as a sign of solidarity for the 150,000 internally displaced people, for the 200,000 Nigerian refugees and the 170 schools that have been closed," said Gatama. "I am optimistic that the military will be galvanized and I am sure Boko Haram has got the message that the people are united against them."
The solidarity march was also to discourage Cameroonian youths from joining the extremist group, said journalist Ndi Eugene Ndi.
Buma Yvonne who lost his younger brother in the battle against Boko Haram said the march showed how much Cameroonians stand by those who are sacrificing their lives: "Our children, our brothers, our parents giving their lives up there (in northern Cameroon), giving their lives for our sake, it is important, very, very important to come out to show our support for them."