Regional forces report that a powerful response to counter Boko Haram’s first major attack in Niger on Friday, has resulted in the deaths of more than a hundred Boko Haram militants.
According to a Vanguard report, the clashes in Bosso and Diffa, along the Nigerian border marked yet another expansion of violence attributed to Boko Haram, but it seemed to have come at a heavy cost.
The defence ministry in Niger reported that 109 of the militants were killed, along with four soldiers and a civilian. Seventeen other soldiers were wounded.
Commander of the Chadian troops in Niger, General Yaya Daoud, was also wounded with a gunshot to the stomach, a security source said.
Calm had, however, been restored to both Bosso and Diffa.
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 condemned the fresh Boko Haram attacks in “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.”
US intelligence officials said Friday that while Boko Haram is flush with cash and weapons after a string of battlefield advances, the militants could face a tougher fight with Nigeria’s neighbours.
The military intervention of neighbouring powers could potentially be a “game changer in a positive way,” one intelligence official said.
Local radio reports said Friday’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”.
A local leader, however, 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 greatest). We heard an aircraft fly over the town.
“We even saw smoke coming up from the town hall and the prefect’s office, where heavy gunfire was heard,” he added in the Hausa language, asking not to be named. “It’s quiet now, but we’re staying home.”