YAOUNDÉ, Cameroon — Nigerian Boko Haram militants kidnapped the wife of Cameroon’s vice prime minister and killed at least three people Sunday in a cross-border attack involving more than 200 assailants in the northern town of Kolofata, officials in Cameroon said.
Seini Boukar Lamine, a local religious leader, or lamido, who is the town’s mayor, and five members of his family also were kidnapped in a separate attack on his home.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility.
Boko Haram, an Islamist group that made international headlines when it abducted about 200 Nigerian schoolgirls in April, has stepped up cross-border attacks into Cameroon in recent weeks. Cameroon has deployed troops to its northern region, joining international efforts to combat the militants.
“I can confirm that the home of Vice Prime Minister Amadou Ali in Kolofata came under a savage attack from Boko Haram militants,” government spokesman Issa Tchiroma, who is a communications minister, said by telephone.
“They unfortunately took away his wife. They also attacked the lamido’s residence, and he was also kidnapped,” he said, adding that at least three people were killed in the attack.
Tchiroma said at a news conference later Sunday that the Cameroonian army had taken the town of Kolofata back under control after pushing back the militants, who he said had used “brutal and unqualified violence.”
“We do not have all the facts in order to give full information on the exact circumstances and the victim toll of this attack,” Tchiroma said on state television.
A Cameroonian military commander in the region said that security officials had taken the vice prime minister to a neighboring town. He had been at home to celebrate the Muslim feast at the end of Ramadan with his family when the attack happened.
The incident was the third Boko Haram attack in Cameroon since last Friday. At least four soldiers were killed in the two previous attacks.
Last Friday, about 22 suspected Boko Haram militants who had been held in Cameroon’s northern hub of Maroua since March were sentenced to prison terms ranging from 10 to 20 years. It was not immediately clear whether the attacks were related to the sentencings.
Boko Haram militants have killed hundreds of people this year, mostly in northeastern Nigeria, although they have bombed places nationwide.
The group rejects Western-style education and is trying to carve out a de facto Islamic state in northern Nigeria.
On Sunday, a bomb attack on a Catholic church in northern Nigeria’s main city of Kano killed five people and wounded eight, a senior police officer said. Christian churches have been a preferred target for the militants.
The attacker threw the bomb at worshippers on their way out of the church, police commissioner Adenrele Shinaba said.
In a separate incident, a suicide bomber tried to attack police officers on the streets. She killed herself and wounded two of the officers, Shinaba said.