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Cameroon Kills 100 Islamic State Fighters, Rescues 900 Hostages 

The militants were killed during an army operation to free hostages. Cameroon made the announcement barely hours after suicide bombers killed several people in the region

Cameroon Wednesday claimed killing over 100 Islamic State (IS) fighters in the Far North Region and rescuing close to 900 hostages.

Military officials said the IS combatants were killed in an operation to free hundreds of hostages near the border with Nigeria.

Actually, the militants belonged to the Nigeria-based Boko Haram group, but the Cameroon government has, for the first time, started referring to the group as the Islamic State, the global jihadist organisation based in Iraq and Syria. Boko Haram last year declared allegiance to the Islamic State (also known as Daesh, ISIS and ISIL).

It is not yet clear whether any hostages and/or Cameroonian soldiers were injured or killed in the operation, which was announced barely hours after two female suicide bombers killed three people in the same region. The military also did not disclose if it took any prisoners.

There was initial confusion as to when the operation took place, but a statement by the defence ministry later clarified that the assault on the IS militants took place from November 26 – 28.

The statement referred to the militants as belonging to the “Islamic State, former Boko Haram” and disclosed that munitions, weapons and Islamic State flags were seized during the operation.

Cameroon attributed the success of the operation to the courage and determination of its soldiers, as well as close collaboration with the Nigerian military and international forces that are currently engaged in a joint effort to degrade and defeat the terrorist organisation.

Questions will, however, remain as to why the Cameroon defence ministry waited for several days to announce a successful operation against the Islamist militants and its silence over civilian and military casualties (or the absence of such casualties).

Cameroonians are already expressing doubts about the veracity of the government’s version of the army’s purported operation. Angie Forbin, a media critic, for instance, in a Facebook post titled “Cameroon and the 900 Hostage Liberation Farce!”, picked several holes in the government’s narrative and concluded: “Propaganda is good from time to time but please try to make the figures more believable next time… For now my ‘pure white lie detector’ is in excellent shape…”

This story has been updated to include the reactions of Cameroonians to the army’s operation to free the hostages.

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