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2,000 Chad troops head to Niger for Boko Haram offensive: Minister

AFP , Tuesday 14 Jun 2016
Chadian troops
File Photo: Chadian soldiers sit in a military pickup truck in Damasak March 24, 2015 (Photo: Reuters)
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Two thousand Chadian soldiers are on their way to Niger, ahead of a planned offensive against Boko Haram, Niger's defence minister said Thursday .

Military powerhouse Chad is a leading member of a multi-national force fighting the Nigeria-based Boko Haram fighters who have extended their attacks to neighbouring countries from their base in northern Nigeria.

Boko Haram on Friday attacked a military post in Bosso in Niger's Diffa region, killing 26 soldiers including two from neighbouring Nigeria, in one of its deadliest attacks in Niger.

"We are preparing with Chad, as quickly as possible, an intervention operation in northern Nigeria. It's being prepared and speeded up," Defence Minister Hassoumi Massaoudou told a press conference in Niamey.

Troops from Nigeria and Cameroon will also be involved, he said.

On Wednesday the first of the 2,000 troops from Chad began arriving in neighbouring Niger Wednesday, a security source there said.

The counter-offensive will begin in southeast Niger, said Nigerian General Lamidi Adeosun, head of the multinational force that groups troops from the four countries together in the battle against Boko Haram.

Niger and Chad's troops will engage "immediately" while Nigeria will launch an operation from the south of its territory and Cameroon will push forward from the east flank.

The objective is to trap Boko Haram "in a pincer movement", the defence minister said.

"The strategic goal is to occupy the north of Nigeria in order to protect our borders," he added.

In March 2015 Chad and Niger launched an offensive on Nigerian soil and managed to chase Boko Haram insurgents from several of their strongholds.

However after the troops left the jihadists reoccupied Malam Fatori and Damasack.

Helicopters from Niger and Sukhoi fighter planes from Chad have already been bombarding Boko haram positions for days.

In last week's Boko attack in Niger's Diffa region, 55 insurgents were killed and "many" injured, according to Niger authorities, along with the 26 Niger soldiers in one of its deadliest attacks in Niger.

Some 50,000 people have fled the Bosso area since the attack, according to the UN refugee agency.

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