NIAMEY: The Sahel state of Niger, which has been battling a bloody terrorist insurgency, said Wednesday around 75 Boko Haram combatants had been killed in the southeast and in neighbouring Nigeria.
25 “terrorists” were killed on Monday south of Diffa, the main city in southeast Niger, while “about 50… were neutralised” the same day on Nigerian soil in the Lake Chad region, in two operations by a regional terrorist force, the defence ministry said in a statement.
The figures could not be verified independently.
On Monday, troops from Niger’s contingent in the regional force carried out “aggressive reconnaissance” on the banks of the Komadougou river and clashed with Boko Haram fighters at a locality 74km south of Diffa, the ministry said.
“All the terrorist group,” comprising 25 combatants, was killed, it said, adding that two soldiers were lightly injured.
A vehicle, four motorbikes, weapons, ammunition and various material “for military use” were seized, the statement said.
The same day, around 50 “enemy elements” were “neutralised” in coalition airstrikes and artillery bombardment of Tombon-Fulani, an island in the marshy Lake Chad region in northeastern Nigeria, the defence ministry added.
“Shelters and logistical dumps” were also destroyed, it said.
Terrorists carried out a major attack against a Nigerien military camp outside Diffa on May 3, killing two soldiers and wounding three others, according to the government.
A propaganda video released by the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP), a Boko Haram splinter group affiliated to the so-called Islamic State, purported to show heavily-armed insurgents storm an army camp following sustained fighting and heavy weapons fire.
Terrorists carried out another attack in the same area on Saturday.
Boko Haram’s insurgency has claimed more than 36,000 lives since it began in northeastern Nigeria in 2009 and displaced nearly two million from their homes.
The violence spilt over into neighbouring Sahel countries in 2015, especially in the Lake Chad region, where the borders of Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria converge.
Diffa, a city of 200,000 people located near the Nigerian border, has been repeatedly attacked.
The region is home to 120,000 refugees from Nigeria as well as 110,000 people internally displaced within Niger, according to UN data released in October.
The countries around Lake Chad, together with Benin, have set up a combined group, the Multinational Joint Task Force, to counter the jihadists.