Cameroon says has defeated Boko Haram amid abuse allegations
Cameroon's president declared on Saturday that the extremist group Boko Haram has been defeated.
President Paul Biya's comments come four years after he declared war on the group, and they mark his first visit to the Far North region since 2012.
Security is a major issue in Cameroon, a US and French military ally, as it also faces a bloody English-language separatist movement in the southwest and northwest.
Addressing a rally in Maroua, Biya said he would focus on rebuilding what has been destroyed in the Far North "now that terrorism has been defeated".
The region for years has been the target of suicide bombings and other attacks by Boko Haram fighters who spilled over the border from Nigeria, where the extremist group is based. Nearly a quarter-million people in Cameroon have been displaced.
Boko Haram has not carried out a major attack in Cameroon in the past year and the number of attacks has fallen. Its fighters continue to attack military targets and cities in Nigeria's northeast despite repeated government declarations that it has been "crushed".
Biya warned Far North residents to remain vigilant despite recent progress including the re-opening last month of 40 schools along the border.
Not everyone warmed to the president's comments at the rally.
The fight against Boko Haram has raised questions about Cameroon's security forces. Shocking videos that recently circulated online showed soldiers shooting defenseless civilians including women with young children strapped to their backs, Amnesty International said after expert analysis.
Cameroon's government has announced several arrests related to one of the videos and said any alleged abuses will be investigated.
The 85-year-old Biya, one of Africa's longest-serving leaders, has been in power since 1982 and is likely to win again during elections scheduled for 7 October.
Follow us on Twitter: @The_NewArab