Cameroon police raid finds 'prisoners' held by holy man

YAOUNDE - Police detained around 70 people, some apparently being "held as prisoners" by an Islamic holy man, during a raid on a Islamic school in northern Cameroon, sources said Monday.

During the raid Saturday in Ngaoundere, capital of Adamawa region, police found 17 Nigerians - 10 women, one man and six children - who were in the country illegally, 19 Cameroonians without official papers and 35 other Cameroonians, a source close to the security services told AFP.

Apart from the holy man, the rest of the group appeared to be prisoners of the school and some were in chains, the source said, adding that the circumstances surrounding their imprisonment was still being investigated.

A police source confirmed the arrests, describing the place as a "Koranic school" where "many people" were "held as prisoners by a holy man".

The raid came as northern Cameroon has been plagued by the Nigerian Islamist group Boko Haram.

Security forces have stepped up measures after five suicide attacks claimed by Boko Haram in July which killed 50.

Raids and arrests have picked up pace in recent days across the country and the full Islamic veil was banned after some suicide bombers used the loose clothing to hide explosives.