Nigeria air strikes kill `large number` of Boko Haram

Nigeria said Sunday it had carried out air strikes in the northeast of the country to repel an attack by Boko Haram and had killed a "large number" of the Islamist extremists.

The air raids came as Nigeria and its neighbours prepared to launch a new multinational force to combat Boko Haram, in the face of the group`s escalating violence in the region.

The Nigerian Air Force said it had "successfully repelled an attack on Bita village by the Boko Haram terrorist group" in a combined operation with ground troops after spotting militants planning an assault.

"Consequently, a large number of the insurgents were killed and several others were injured," it said in a statement, without disclosing when the incident took place.

Boko Haram has staged a string of strikes -- often by female bombers -- targeting markets in Nigeria, Chad and Cameroon that have killed and wounded scores in the past month.

The new 8,700-strong multinational force -- made up of troops from Nigeria as well as Cameroon, Chad and Niger -- is expected to go into action soon, officials say.

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, who won an election in March on a promise to defeat the jihadists, said Friday the new force would "lead to the speedy defeat and elimination of Boko Haram".

The group`s bloody insurgency in Nigeria has left more than 15,000 people dead since 2009.

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