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Chad, Niger Troops Fight Boko Haram

Chad, Niger Troops Fight Boko HaramChad, Niger Troops Fight Boko Haram

Forces from Chad and Niger opened a new front in the regional military fight against the Boko Haram militant group, as army vehicles full of soldiers crossed the border into northeast Nigeria, officials and witnesses said Monday.

The escalation in a joint military campaign against the Nigeria-based Boko Haram comes just weeks before Nigerians head to the polls for an election which many fear will turn violent, and after the militants have attacked neighboring countries who have pledged to help Nigeria defeat the extremists, AP reported.

Chadian Brig. Gen. Zakaria Ngobongue said Monday that his soldiers, alongside troops from Niger, had entered Nigeria. He declined to give details about the ongoing operation. Already Chadian forces had crossed into northeastern Nigeria from Cameroon to fight the militants, he said.

Boko Haram has been fighting a nearly 6-year insurgency against the Nigerian government, and on Saturday declared their allegiance to Islamic State, raising fears that the conflict could be internationalized with IS fighters from North Africa. Boko Haram has carried out mass kidnappings, including of schoolgirls. “They are bandits and criminals who have nothing to do with religion,” Ngobongue said. He spoke to reporters after the closing ceremony for Flintlock, a training in counter-terrorism tactics that included US special forces and involved 20 countries.

Witnesses in the Niger town of Bosso reported about 200 military vehicles crossing over into Nigeria since Saturday. Adam Boukarna, one resident, said the deployment was followed by loud detonations, signaling heavy combat with Boko Haram.

Cameroon’s minister of defense, Edgard Alain Mebe Ngo’o, said troops from Nigeria and Chad would fight Boko Haram while soldiers from Cameroon and Niger would guard their borders to prevent the militants from escaping. Boko Haram has been using Cameroon as an escape and supply route.

Tens of thousands of Nigerians have taken refuge in the area, among 1.6 million people driven from their homes by the insurgency.

 

Financialtribune.com