109 Boko Haram Terrorist Killed in First Attack of Regional Troops in Niger
Boko Haram launched its first major attack in Niger on Friday, triggering a forceful response from regional troops who claimed to have killed more than a hundred of the terrorists.
The clashes in Bosso and Diffa, along the border with Nigeria, marked yet another expansion of violence attributed to Boko Haram, but it seemed to have come at a heavy cost.
Niger’s defence minister reported that 109 of the terrorists were killed, along with four soldiers and a civilian. Seventeen other troops were wounded.
Chadian forces, who have taken a lead role in battling Boko Haram in recent days, fought alongside Niger’s troops on Friday.
Chad’s commander in Niger, General Yaya Daoud, was also wounded with a gunshot to the stomach, a security source said.
Niger’s Defence Minister Mahamadou Karidjo said calm had been restored to both Bosso and Diffa.
The clashes in Niger came as regional efforts intensified to battle Boko Haram, which has waged a six-year insurgency centred in northeastern Nigeria, where the Boko Haram have seized swathes of territory.
In response, Boko Haram launched a bloody counter-attack on the Cameroonian town of Fotokol, killing 19 soldiers and at least 81 civilians.
The conflict has killed at least 13,000 people and forced more than a million from their homes since 2009.
In this picture taken on January 26, 2015 Nigerian refugees go about their daily lives at a United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) camp in Baga Sola. The refugees arrived in the camp after the attack by Boko Haram millitants in the Nigerian town of Baga. AFP
Niger announced Thursday that on Monday it would ask its parliament to approve sending troops to Nigeria to fight the militants alongside Chadian and Cameroon soldiers.
The United States condemned the fresh Boko Haram attacks in “strongest possible terms” and pledged support for regional forces.
US intelligence officials said Friday that while Boko Haram is flush with cash and weapons after a string of battlefield advances, the militants could face a tougher fight with Nigeria’s neighbours.
The military intervention of neighbouring powers could potentially be a “game changer in a positive way,” one intelligence official said.
The leader of the Nigerian extremist group Boko Haram, Abubakar Shekau. Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau has threatened Cameroon in a message on the video-sharing site YouTube, warning that the same fate would befall the country as neighbouring Nigeria.
Other clashes broke out some 10 kilometres from Niger’s Diffa, which is on the border with Nigeria near a bridge that links the two countries. Its control is essential for transporting troops and supplies.
Yacouba Soumana Gaoh, Diffa’s governor, told local reporters that close to 3,000 of Niger’s troops are massed in groups every 10-15 along the border with Nigeria.
Nigeria’s military has drawn fierce criticism for failing to rein in the insurgents, who have intensified attacks ahead of presidential and parliamentary elections set for February 14.
Nigerian election authorities said they will announce on Saturday whether the polls will be delayed as problems mount with distributing identity cards to 68.8 million registered voters.
Earlier this week, Chad launched a ground assault across the frontier to battle the terrorism and recapture the Nigerian town of Gamboru after having bombed the area beforehand. Chad’s army said it had killed more than 200 Boko Haram fighters in the clashes.