YAOUNDE, Cameroon (AP) — Authorities have ordered the closure of mosques and Islamic schools following a series of suicide bombing attacks in northern Cameroon that have left at least 60 people dead, the region’s governor said Sunday.
Child beggars are also being ordered off the streets because all the suicide bombers so far have been children, including the 13-year-old female who detonated explosives in an attack Saturday evening.
While there have been no claims of responsibility, authorities have blamed the Islamic extremist group Boko Haram, which has pledged its allegiance to the Islamic State group and abducted hundreds of girls and young women.
The group’s leader has vowed to attack Cameroon because the Central African nation has aided neighboring Nigeria in its fight to defeat the extremists.
In the latest attack inside Cameroon, at least 20 people were killed and another 85 wounded Saturday evening in the northern town of Maroua. The suicide bombing came just days after another attack there earlier in the week.
Governor Midjiyawa Bakari said he was implementing strict measures after stepped up security failed to thwart the second attack. Authorities believe the suicide bombers are coming from neighboring Nigeria, and the governor has ordered “a census of all visitors in all neighborhoods.” A curfew will also be in place from 8:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m.,” he said.
The closures and restrictions have provoked some criticism.
“They should have better solutions to their problems. Why is that governor chasing the wrong horse?” asked 70-year-old Aladji Haman from the Maroua central mosque.
Cameroon’s Defense Minister Edgard Alain Mebe Ngo’o urged citizens to help the military by reporting any suspects or unusual activity.
“The population must develop a culture of vigilance because Boko Haram has changed strategy,” he said.