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Query over troops in wake of Boko Haram attack

June 18, 2016

Boko Haram has claimed another deadly attack in Niger which killed several police officers. Troops from Chad remain in Nigeria and have not been deployed to Niger, according to the Interior Minister.

Chadian troops participate in the closing ceremony of operation Flintlock in an army base in N'djamena, Chad
Image: picture-alliance/AP Photo/J. Delay

Niger's Interior Minister said on Saturday no troops from Chad have been deployed to the west-African nation's embattled Diffa region following a deadly Boko Haram attack two weeks ago. The most recent attack by the terror group in Niger was on Thursday night.

"It seems Chadian troops are already on the ground, they are in Nigeria, they're not in Niger," Interior Minister Mohamed Bazoum told Reuters news agency on Saturday.

Previously, several military sources said that Chad sent 2,000 troops to Niger to prepare a counterattack against the Islamist militants, whose June 3 attack killed over 20 Niger troops in Bosso, a town in the Lake Chad region on the Nigerian border.

The attack was one of the deadliest carried out by Boko Haram in Niger and led to talks between Niger President Mahamadou Issoufou and his Chadian counterpart Idriss Deby.

The goal of the talks "was mainly to accelerate the implementation ... of the FMM (mixed multinational force) and I think it's already done", Bazoum told Reuters. The multinational force includes soldiers from Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Benin.

When asked about whether the 2,000 Chadian soldiers had been sent to Niger after the attacks in Bosso, the minister said: "I think it was a particularly vivid imagination of some journalists."

Boko Haram claims new Niger attack

Boko Haram claimed an attack on Niger military barracks in the southern Diffa region, saying they killed "seven apostates" on Thursday.

SITE Intelligence Group, which tracks online extremist activity said the Boko Haram fighters also "took weapons and various ammunition."

The military confirmed on Friday that seven gendarmes - or police officers - were killed during the attacks and 12 others were injured. The attack took place in an area where many refugees live, according to Urgence Diffa, a security and humanitarian monitor in the area.

Last week, the UN refugee agency said recent fighting has forced 50,000 people to flee the area.

Boko Haram's almost seven-year-old insurgency has killed around 20,000 people and forced an estimated 2 million others from their homes.

rs/jm (AP, dpa, Reuters)