'109 Boko Haram fighters dead' after first attack on Niger
Boko Haram has launched its first major attack in Niger, triggering a forceful response from regional troops who claimed to have killed more than a hundred of the Islamists.
Niamey: Boko Haram has launched its first major attack in Niger, triggering a forceful response from regional troops who claimed to have killed more than a hundred of the Islamists.
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 Islamists were killed yesterday, 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 troops yesterday. Its commander in Niger, General Yaya Daoud, was also wounded with a gunshot to the stomach, a security source said.
Niger Defence Minister Mahamadou Karidjo said calm had been restored to both areas.
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 Islamists have seized swathes of territory.
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 said it condemned the attack in the "strongest possible terms" and pledged support for regional forces.
"This unchecked killing must stop," State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said. "We continue to provide support to governments in the region, including through intelligence sharing and are increasing our support for these efforts."
Local radio reports said yesterday's fighting in Bosso broke out in the morning and resulted in heavy clashes.
"We could hear the sound of weapons all around the town, often very near our windows. There was the noise of heavy weapons and of light arms, making our houses shake," one resident told AFP.
Chadian forces have been stationed in Bosso since Monday, a humanitarian worker said, adding that Boko Haram "took the municipality" for a time before being "driven back to Nigeria".
However, a local leader said only that Niger's troops fought back the raid, while the Chadians were stationed at a distance.
A resident who spoke on condition of anonymity said soldiers from Chad and Niger "were all over the streets" of Bosso.
"It was like a race across the town," one resident said. "As the fighting drew near, we heard cries of 'Allahu Akbar' (God is Greater). We heard an aircraft fly over the town.