NEW: Boko Haram is behind the attack in Cameroon, a U.S. official says
French President François Hollande says a Cameroonian soldier was killed
One hurt, 10 missing after an attack against employees of a Chinese firm in Cameroon
Attack took place in a northern Cameroon town regarded as a Boko Haram stronghold
(CNN) — A Cameroonian soldier was killed and 10 Chinese nationals went missing after a Boko Haram attack in northern Cameroon, officials from China, the United States and France said Saturday.
No further details were immediately available on the circumstances of their disappearance, said Lu Quinjiang, first counselor of the Chinese Embassy in Yaounde, Cameroon’s capital.
One Chinese national was injured in Friday night’s attack and was being treated by a Chinese medical team in the Chadian capital of N’Djamena, Lu said.
French President François Hollande mentioned the incident Saturday while hosting a security summit in Paris about the growing threat from Boko Haram, the Nigeria-based terror group.
Later, U.S. Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman specified Boko Haram as being behind Friday’s attack in a region of Cameroon known to be a stronghold for the group.
“Cameroon just suffered its own Boko Haram attack at a Chinese company last night,” Sherman said, noting also that Boko Haram is to blame for the abduction of more than 200 schoolgirls in Nigeria.
Several African and Western nations stepped up their search for the girls under a new plan announced at the security summit.
Boko Haram translates as “Western education is a sin” in the Hausa language that’s the lingua franca in West and Central Africa. The militant group says its aim is to impose stricter enforcement of Sharia law across Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation, which is split between a majority Muslim north and a mostly Christian south. Boko Haram’s attacks have intensified in recent years.
Friday’s attack targeted employees of a Chinese company in the northern Cameroonian town of Waza, a few miles away from the Nigerian border.
The Chinese embassy is working with Cameroon’s government to locate the missing workers, Lu said, and has asked for tighter security to protect Chinese nationals in the northern part of the country.
The Chinese company, Sinohydro, is an engineering firm that builds large scale hydropower projects.
It has been involved in the construction of the Memve’ele dam in southern Cameroon as part of the country’s effort to boost electricity production, according to the company’s website.
Last year, a group of Boko Haram fighters crossed into northern Cameroon and abducted a French family of four children, their parents and an uncle from Waza National Park.
The family was eventually released, reportedly in exchange for a $3 million ransom and the release of 16 Boko Haram prisoners held in Cameroon.
By Michael Martinez, Christabelle Fombu, and Pierre Meilhan