Boko Haram stage high-profile kidnapping

Last updated 08:06 28/07/2014

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The wife of Cameroon's vice prime minister has been kidnapped and at least three people killed in an attack by Boko Haram militants in the northern town of Kolofata, Cameroon officials say.

A local religious leader, or lamido, named Seini Boukar Lamine, who is also the town's mayor, was also kidnapped, in a separate attack on his home, they said.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility.

Boko Haram, the Nigerian Islamist militant group, has stepped up cross-border attacks into Cameroon in recent weeks as Cameroon has deployed troops to the region, joining international efforts to combat the militants.

"I can confirm that the home of Vice Prime Minister Amadou Ali in Kolofata came under a savage attack from Boko Haram militants," Cameroon official Issa Tchiroma said.

A Cameroon military commander in the region said the vice prime minister was taken to a neighbouring town by security officials.

"The situation is very critical here now, and as I am talking to you the Boko Haram elements are still in Kolofata town in a clash with our soldiers," said Colonel Felix Nji Formekong, the second commander of Cameroon's third inter-army military region, based in the regional headquarters Maroua.

The Sunday attack is the third Boko Haram attack into Cameroon since Friday. At least four soldiers were killed in the previous attacks.

Boko Haram have killed hundreds of people this year, mostly in north-eastern Nigeria.

A bomb attack on a Catholic church in northern Nigeria's main city of Kano killed five people and wounded eight on Sunday, a senior police officer said.

The attacker threw the bomb at worshippers on their way out of the church,  which has suffered previous attacks by Boko Haram, police commissioner Adenrele Shinaba said.

Also in Kano on Sunday, a woman suicide bomber blew herself up outside a university after police prevented her carrying out an attack, injuring five officers.

"A female suicide bomber was isolated [by police] as she was walking towards the gate of the university," police spokesman Frank Mba  said, adding that she had hidden the bomb under her "long black hijab".

He said police had "isolated" her because she was behaving strangely.

Officials on Sunday moved to avert further violence, cancelling Eid festivities marking the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan next week.

- Reuters, AAP

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