The abduction of Cameroon’s Vice-Prime Minister’s wife in a cross-border attack on the town of Kolofata, Cameroon by Boko Haram negates the common perception of their agenda of the establishment of an Islamic state in Nigeria. The increase in the frequency of the cross-border attacks across the long and easily-penetrable Cameroon border belies a transnational agenda, and the kidnapping of high profile targets such as the wife of Deputy Prime Minister Amadou Ali, the mayor of Kolofata and a local religious leader all in one attack, in which over 200 militants crossed the border reflects careful, meticulous planning. It seems that the violence and the kidnappings are not orchestrated at random. Whether this attack and others like it are in response to the recent imprisonment of 20 members of the organization by Cameroon is still unclear.

Boko Haram’s stronghold is the Borno state on the East of Nigeria that connects to the Cameroon border, and to Chad and Niger in the North, which gives them a strategic advantage to conduct attacks all across the region. In the past six months, the militants have killed over 2000 people in a hundred different attacks. The 200 girls have still not been released and constant kidnappings like the one yesterday have added to the tally of prisoners being held by the militants.

The Nigerian people are caught between a rock and a hard place, with attacks from Boko Haram and distrust in their own military leading many Nigerians in border towns to cross over to Cameroon in an effort to save themselves. The Nigerian government and the army seems almost powerless against the constant barrage of attacks, and earlier this week, Nigeria, Cameroon, Niger and Chad agreed to form a joint force of 2,800 strong to counter the threat posed by the militants. This force must act more decisively than the Nigerian army, and control of the Borno state must be wrested from the hands of the terrorists if they are to be defeated in the long run.