YAOUNDE (Reuters) – Cameroon has arrested four soldiers suspected of shooting dead two women and two children in the country’s far north where its army is battling jihadist group Boko Haram, two security sources told Reuters.
A video of the incident, which has been shared tens of thousands of times on Twitter since it emerged last week, has provoked international outcry.
Government spokesman Issa Tchiroma Bakary initially described the footage as “fake news” and said that the men in the footage, who were wearing military fatigues, did not appear to be Cameroonian soldiers. However, he said the government would open an investigation.
“Four soldiers were arrested on Sunday. They are suspected of being the authors of the executions in the video,” said an army officer in Cameroon’s Far North region near the border with Nigeria.
A second security source said that three of the soldiers had been transferred to the capital Yaounde while the fourth was still being held in Maroua, the capital of the Far North.
Spokesmen for the army and the government did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
The shaky footage shows two women, one with an infant strapped to her back, being led across a patch of dusty scrubland by a group of uniformed men, who accuse them of belonging to the Nigerian militant group Boko Haram.
The women, silent throughout the ordeal, are blindfolded and told to sit down alongside their children. Moments later, two men step back, level their rifles and fire a series of rounds.
Amnesty International said last week that it had gathered credible evidence that the men in the video were indeed Cameroonian soldiers based on an analysis of their weapons, speech and uniforms.
Four Cameroonian military sources, including the officer in the Far North, told Reuters that the video did show Cameroonian soldiers. Two said the video was filmed in 2014 or 2015 in the early months of Cameroon’s operations against Boko Haram.