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Cameroon soldiers arrested after demanding bonuses

Around 30 Cameroonian soldiers fighting the Nigerian jihadist group Boko Haram were arrested after a demonstration to demand the payment of bonuses and some leave, the defence ministry said Monday.

The soldiers on Sunday “set about stopping traffic with barricades on national route number one,” the ministry said in a statement broadcast on state radio.

The men were demanding that they be immediately relieved from duty, as well as “the payment of bonuses for ‘international soldiers’ in line with those granted to their comrades from UN peace keeping missions,” the statement said.

The soldiers were transferred from the Zigue area in the far north to capital Yaounde where they were placed under arrest and a judicial investigation was opened, the ministry said.

Traffic along the northern route was restored.

Cameroonian soldiers engaged in the fight against Boko Haram often complain about their conditions, but this is the first time a group have demonstrated for leave or greater pay.

Though Boko Haram was born in Nigeria, the Islamic State-affiliated group has carried out frequent attacks in Cameroon, Chad and Niger, prompting the formation of a 10,000-strong regional force to fight back.

Some 200,000 Cameroonians from the far north region near Nigeria have left their villages in fear of the violence.

–AFP