Niger, Chad troops fight Boko Haram

2015-03-08 18:30
Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau. (File, AFP)

Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau. (File, AFP)

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Niamey - The armies of Niger and Chad on Sunday launched a major ground and air offensive against Islamist extremist group Boko Haram in northeastern Nigeria, a source from the Niger government said.

The offensive openeda new front against the Islamists as part of regional efforts to combat them and came after Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group.

The source said: "An offensive is underway against Boko Haram. Very early this morning, (on Sunday), the troops from Niger and Chad began an offensive against Boko Haram... in the area of Bosso and close to Diram."

Tanks and ambulances

A resident of Diffa, located in Niger near the Nigerian border, said he saw troops headed toward the frontier early  on Sunday followed by the sounds of heavy arms fire.

Privately owned radio station Anfani, based in Diffa, reported more than 200 vehicles, including those equipped with machine guns as well as tanks, ambulances, water tankers and transport trucks, in a convoy moving toward the Nigerian border.

It also reported that aircraft had targeted Boko Haram positions on Saturday and early on Sunday.

The African Union on Friday endorsed the creation of a regional force of up to 10 000 men to join the fight against Boko Haram.

The force, the idea for which was adopted at an AU summit in January, will be based in Chad's capital N'Djamena, the pan-African bloc's Peace and Security Council said.

It will be mandated "to prevent the spread of Boko Haram activities and other terrorist groups" and "eradicate their presence," the body agreed in a meeting earlier week.

Several weeks

Diplomats said Chad, Nigeria, Cameroon, Niger and Benin had committed to providing troops, who would "operate freely" in a still-undefined region.

Regional efforts have however already been underway to fight Boko Haram for several weeks, particularly 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.


Read more on:    au  |  boko haram  |  abubakar shekau  |  chad  |  niger  |  nigeria  |  west africa

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