ABUJA, Nigeria -- About 30 hostages abducted in Cameroon over the weekend by members of the Nigerian militant group Boko Haram have been released, Cameroon's military said Monday.
Military spokesman Col. Didier Badjeck said some of the more than 60 hostages taken had escaped, while others were freed after a gun fight between Boko Haram and the military. The extremists used some of the hostages as human shields, he said, adding that he did not know how many people were killed in the battles.
The Cameroon attack occurred in Mabass village, in the Far North region, Information Minister Issa Tchiroma Bakary said.
- "It's as if the world has forgotten us"
- Survivors recount Nigeria massacre
- Girl suicide bombers reportedly hit Nigeria markets
"We are dealing with barbaric people, lawless people," Bakary said. "Nothing can prevent them from assassinating."
The attacks in Nigeria and Cameroon highlight the growing regional threat posed by Boko Haram. The attacks occurred three days after Cameroon President Paul Biya announced Chad would send "an important contingent" to support Cameroon's army as it tries to repel the extremists' intensifying offensive.
On Sunday, Chadian troops began arriving in Cameroon, heading straight to the north, Cameroon's information minister said.
Thousands of demonstrators took to the streets of Chad's capital, N'Djamena, on Saturday to support the deployment, according to an article posted on the official website of Chad's presidency.
Boko Haram has been recruiting fighters in Cameroon, Chad and Niger, and the group recently issued a video threatening Biya.
The attack in Potiskum, the largest commercial center in Nigeria's Yobe state, occurred at around 10 a.m. near a gasoline station, Channels Television said. There was no immediate claim of responsibility.
The suicide bombing was the third such attack this month in Potiskum, and came as Boko Haram has escalated attacks and seized more territory in Nigeria's northeast.
On Jan. 3, the group swept into the Nigerian town of Baga, near Chad, for one of its most brazen assaults yet, overrunning a military base and killing hundreds of civilians over several days, according to witness accounts.
The assault spurred further talk of organizing a multinational force to fight the rebels, though it does not appear imminent.