Boko Haram fighters on Sunday kidnapped the wife of Cameroon's Vice Prime Minister Amadou Ali in an attack that also killed three people, according to a government spokesman.
The Islamist fighters targeted Ali's home in the town of Kolofata, in the Far North Region, according to Communications Minister Issa Tchiroma Bakary. A local religious leader, or lamido, also was kidnapped in a separate attack on his home.
"I can confirm that the home of Vice Prime Minister Amadou Ali in Kolofata came under a savage attack from Boko Haram militants," Bakary told Reuters, adding that at least three people were killed in the attack. "They unfortunately took away his wife. They also attacked the lamido's residence, and he was also kidnapped," he said.
Col. Felix Nji Formekong, second commander of Cameroon's third interarmy military region, based in Maroua, told Reuters that Ali, who was at home to celebrate the Muslim feast of Eid al-Fitr with his family, was taken to a neighboring town by security officials. "The situation is very critical here now, and as I am talking to you, the Boko Haram elements are still in Kolofata town in a clash with our soldiers," Formekong said.
The Sunday attack is the third Boko Haram attack in Cameroon since Friday. At least four soldiers were killed in the previous attacks. Meanwhile, some 22 suspected Boko Haram militants, who have been held in Maroua since March, were sentenced Friday to prison sentences ranging from 10 to 20 years. It was unclear whether the events are related.
Boko Haram has killed hundreds of people this year, mostly in northeastern Nigeria, where they are trying to establish an Islamic state.
A bomb attack on a Catholic church in northern Nigeria's main city of Kano killed five people and wounded eight on Sunday, a senior police officer said. Churches have been a favorite target for the militants.
The attacker threw the bomb at worshippers on their way out of the church, police commissioner Adenrele Shinaba told Reuters. In a separate incident, a female suicide bomber tried to attack police officers on the streets. She killed herself and wounded two officers, Shinaba said.
Boko Haram has stepped up cross-border attacks in Cameroon in recent weeks as Cameroon has deployed troops to the region, joining international efforts to combat the militants.
Cameroon's government has become increasingly involved in regional efforts to combat Boko Haram, despite warnings to stay out of the group's fight with the Nigerian military or risk further attacks.