Adama Simila wears a knife tied to his belt by a piece of rope, his only protection against Boko Haram, the Nigerian Islamist insurgents who have repeatedly targeted his home town in remote northern Cameroon.
While the threat once came from heavily armed, battle-hardened jihadists crossing from neighbouring Nigeria, today Simila knows he is more likely to die at the hands of a teenage girl strapped with explosives.
“We’re here to look out for suicide bombers,” said the 31-year-old, a member of a local civilian defence force in the town of Kerawa.
After watching its influence spread during a six-year campaign that has killed around 15,000 people according to the U.S. military, Nigeria has now united with its neighbours to stamp out Boko Haram.
A regional offensive last year drove the insurgents from most of their traditional strongholds, denying them their dream of an Islamic emirate in northeastern Nigeria. An 8,700-strong regional force of troops from Benin, Cameroon, Chad, Niger, and Nigeria is seeking to finish the job. Read more