ABUJA — Chadian soldiers have killed more than 200 Boko Haram terrorists as the soldiers recaptured Nigerian town of Gamboru after the Islamist terrorist group attacked a military base in Cameroon and were chased into north-eastern Nigeria.
In the encounter, according to Chad’s military chief in a statement, nine Chadian soldiers were killed and 21 injured when the insurgents attacked the base of the Multinational Joint Taskforce, a coalition Chad, Niger and Nigeria formed to fight Boko Haram.
Chad’s military chief said: “We regret nine dead and 21 wounded. On the enemy side, more than 200 deaths…,” adding that the toll could rise since clean-up operations in the Nigerian town of Gamboru were continuing.
The Chadian soldiers reportedly pursued the Boko Haram fighters into Nigeria and followed them to their bases in the towns of Gamboru and Ngala in Borno State, the general said in a statement published on the Chadian news website, Al Wihda.
Soldiers destroyed a dozen Boko Haram vehicles loaded with heavy weapons and about a hundred motorbikes and seized a canon, according to the statement.
According to a source with Nigeria’s Defence Ministry on the condition of anonymity, “Gamboru has been liberated, and that came with a serious cost to Boko Haram.” The multinational troops are working in tandem to rout out these elements.
About 2,000 Chadian soldiers were stationed along the border this week after the African Union agreed on January 31 to send 7,500 troops to fight Boko Haram.
In Gamboru, the offensive, which was preceded by days of Chadian air strikes, had left scenes of desolation, with bodies lying on the ground, houses destroyed, shops gutted and trucks charred.
“We have routed this band of terrorists,” the commander of the Chadian contingent Ahmat Dari told AFP Tuesday, vowing to “hunt them down everywhere.”
Nigeria’s sovereignty not compromised —DHQ
Nigeria has reacted defensively to the presence of foreign troops on its soil.
“Nigeria’s territorial integrity remains intact,” defence spokesman Chris Olukolade insisted, claiming national forces had “planned and are driving the present onslaught against terrorists from all fronts in Nigeria, not the Chadian forces.”
Regional forces have gone into action on several fronts.
Nigerian and Chadian war planes have been bombing Boko Haram hideouts since Monday.
Defence spokesman, Chris Olukolade, said Tuesday that Nigeria’s sovereignty was not compromised by the presence of Chadian troops because all units were working in cooperation.
The insurgents are in control of about 130 villages and towns in northern Nigeria
A security source said, “when the Chadians entered Gamboru, the Boko Haram members who were in the town and some villages fled and clashed with Cameroon soldiers at Fotokol as the Islamists fled an offensive by Chad’s army. Fighting between them and our soldiers is really intense.”
Chadian jet fighters had also bombed Gamboru before its troops entered.
Boko Haram fighters were said to have gone on the rampage in the Cameroonian border town of Fotokol, yesterday, killing civilians and torching a mosque before being repelled by regional forces.
Some of the insurgents escaped and slipped back across the border into Fotokol at dawn to make a fresh attack. “Boko Haram inflicted so much damage here this morning. They have killed dozens of people,” Umar Babakalli, a resident of Fotokol, told AFP by telephone.
Civilians killed, houses burnt
Several residents said civilians’ throats were slit and that the town’s main mosque was torched. “They burnt houses and killed civilians as well as soldiers,” a source close to security forces said.
Another resident who had fled to another town told AFP he knew of at least 10 people who had been killed.
After several hours of clashes Cameroonian troops, backed by Chadian forces who scrambled back from Nigeria to help guard the town, managed to repel the assault.
“People are coming back little by little to assess the damage. The survivors among the attackers have left the town,” a source close to the Cameroonian security services said. No official death toll was immediately available.
The sound of automatic gunfire could still be heard Wednesday in the town as the troops combed the town for remaining rebel elements.
Chadian troops and vehicles have massed near Boko Haram-held towns along Nigeria’s border with Niger, pointing the way to another possible cross-border operation on that frontier..
“A contingent of about 400 vehicles and tanks is stationed between Mamori and Bosso,” Niger’s private radio Anfani reported Tuesday.
France is supporting the operations by carrying out reconnaissance flights over border areas of Chad and Cameroon to provide them with intelligence, defence officials in Paris said.