143 militants from the Islamic extremist group Boko Haram, which continues to brutally terrorize neighboring Nigeria, were killed by Cameroonian troops, Cameroon's government said on Tuesday.
"It is by far the heaviest toll sustained by the criminal sect Boko Haram since it began launching its barbaric attacks against our land, people and goods," Cameroonian Information Minister Issa Tchiroma Bakary said in a statement on television.
He said that the militants were killed during a five-hour scuffle which took place after the group attacked a Cameroonian military camp in Kolofata on Monday. One Cameroonian soldier was killed and four others were wounded, Bakary added.
Last month, the group issued a video threatening Cameroonian President Paul Biya, causing the country's government to step up its offensive, launching airstrikes last month after militants stormed a nearby military base.
According to The Associated Press, an increasing number of countries are being drawn into Nigeria's war with Boko Haram, which rose to power in 2009. Since then, the ruthless terrorist group has killed thousands of civilians and displaced another 1.6 million people throughout Nigeria.
Last week, the militants seized Baga, a fishing village north of Maiduguri, leaving an estimated 2,000 people dead. Amnesty International described it as the terror group's "deadliest massacre" to date, and local defense groups said they had given up counting the bodies left lying on the streets.
On Sunday, jihadists strapped a bomb to a girl described by witnesses as about 10 years old. The child was torn in half and at least twenty others were killed after the bomb exploded in a busy market in the city of Maiduguri.
Boko Haram first drew international outrage last April after abducting nearly 300 schoolgirls from northeastern Nigeria. Although dozens of the students escaped, 219 remain missing.
The Nigerian government, and incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan in particular, has been criticized for its reluctance to effectively pursue the terrorist group within its country.
"There's never been much of an attempt to pursue Boko Haram within the criminal justice system," Carl Levan, a professor at the school of International Service at American University in Washington and author of Dictators and Democracy in African Development told The Daily Beast. "Jonathan had previously floated the idea of an amnesty for Boko Haram ... but the brutal calculus of the terrorists' violence made it more difficult for Nigerians to accept."
According to an annual survey conducted by Open Doors, a U.S. based persecution watchdog, Nigeria topped the list of most Christians confirmed to have been killed for their faith in 2014, with a staggering 2,484.