A joint military task force from Cameroon and Nigeria captured Boukar Kaou, a Boko Haram leader, during a raid in which 58 militants died, according to Cameroon’s government.
Kaou and five of his aides were captured in fighting in the Madawaya forest in northeastern Nigeria near the border with Cameroon on May 10 and 11, Issa Tchiroma Bakary, a spokesman for Cameroon’s government said in a statement read on state radio.
No soldiers died and 46 hostages were freed, including 18 women and 28 children, according to the statement. Three Boko Haram camps were destroyed and a consignment of weapons was found.
The detention of Kaou comes as French President Francois Hollande prepares to push for rebuilding the impoverished region around Lake Chad and establish state authority while keeping military pressure on Boko Haram.
The Islamist militant group has been waging a seven-year offensive that killed tens of thousands of people and spilled over into Cameroon, Chad and Niger, displacing as many as seven million people, according to the US government.
Hollande attended a meeting on Saturday in Abuja. Presidents of the former French colonies of Cameroon, Togo, Niger, Chad and Benin, as well as representatives of the US, Britain and European Union, also attended.