Scores of people have been shot and burned to death after Boko Haram Islamic extremists on the run from a three-nation offensive took revenge on civilians in neighbouring Cameroon, authorities said.
Cameroonian officials said more than 500 wounded people are trapped in the town of Fotokol, where fighting against Boko Haram began on Wednesday and continued throughout yesterday.
Authorities said Boko Haram fighters are using civilians as shields.
While Boko Haram has previously carried out attacks in Cameroon, the latest bloodshed comes after the Nigerian group warned other nations over uniting against it, and appears to be a direct result of Cameroon and Chad launching an offensive this week with aircraft and ground troops.
This new military involvement by other African nations in counter-insurgency campaigns in Nigeria stands to grow even bigger. African Union officials met in Cameroon to finalise details for a multi-national force to attack Boko Haram, though deployment could be delayed by funding issues.
African leaders last week authorised a 7,500-strong force to fight Boko Haram with pledges for a battalion each from Nigeria and its four neighbours, Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Benin.
"We consider Boko Haram to be a cancer, and if the international community does not focus its mind on this disease it will spread not only in Central Africa but other regions, all over the continent," Cameroon's information minister Issa Tchiroma Bakary said last night.