Boko Haram can no longer take a town in Niger: Minister
Boko Haram are no longer in a position to seize a town in Niger, a Niger government minister said on Saturday, following a regional effort to boost the fight against the Islamist group.
Niger: Boko Haram are no longer in a position to seize a town in Niger, a Niger government minister said on Saturday, following a regional effort to boost the fight against the Islamist group.
"The situation is totally under control. There is no longer any chance that Boko Haram will take a city.... The risks of attacks occurring are very much reduced by the elimination of all the potential actors," Mohamed Bazoum, Minister of State at the Presidency, said during a visit to Ivory Coast.
Thousands of troops from Niger and Chad, which had gathered in southeastern Niger, launched a major ground and air offensive against the Islamist group last Sunday and succeeded in retaking the northeastern Nigerian town of Damasak.
"It`s a feeling of total calmness that prevails with the idea that Boko Haram is rather a thing of the past," he said, adding that the situation was a far cry from the "real, totally irrational panic" that had gripped Niger after the first attack by the Nigeria-based Boko Haram on its neighbour in early February.
More than 13,000 people have been killed and some 1.5 million made homeless in the Boko Haram conflict since 2009, while recent cross-border attacks from Boko Haram bases in Nigeria on neighbouring countries have increased security fears.
A regional coalition has claimed a series of successes in rebel-held territory in recent weeks, as part of an operation to clear and control northeast Nigeria in time for Nigeria`s general elections set for March 28.
Regional forces have been particularly active in the Gamboru area of Nigeria on the border with Cameroon. The borders of Nigeria, Chad, Niger and Cameroon converge in the region around Lake Chad.
No Boko Haram attacks in Niger have been reported for nearly two weeks.