Monday, 27 April 2015

Breaking News: Niger army fights Boko Haram for Lake Chad island after attack

Niger's army is fighting to
recapture an island in Lake Chad after it was
seized by hundreds of Boko Haram militants
aboard motorised canoes, army sources said on
Sunday.
Boko Haram, hardline Islamists who want to
establish a caliphate in the region, attacked the
island of Karamga at dawn on Saturday, their
second attempt to capture it since February, army
and government sources said.
Lake Chad's islands, which lie in dense
swampland, are an ideal base for mounting
surprise attacks on the countries bordering the
lake: Chad, Cameroon, Niger and Nigeria.
"There were many (Niger soldiers) dead on
Saturday, considerably more than in the first
attack," said one of the army sources, referring to
a battle in February in which seven Niger soldiers
died.
A second army source said a counter-attack to
clear the island of militants was ongoing.
Since February, Nigerian forces backed by
neighbours Chad, Niger and Cameroon have won
back vast swathes of territory from Boko Haram,
which previously controlled an area the size of
Belgium.
The militants, who have killed thousands of people
in their six-year insurgency, are thought to be
largely hemmed in within north Nigeria's vast
Sambisa Forest where the Nigeria military says it
is advancing.
However, on Friday suspected Boko Haram
militants crossed over from Cameroon and forced
Nigerian troops out of the border town of Marte,
one soldier told Reuters, indicating the group still
has a reach beyond Sambisa.
The island of Karamga is hundreds of kilometres
away, suggesting that there is at least one Boko
Haram cell further north.
Niger suffered a wave of attacks and suicide
bombs in its southern border region of Diffa in
February and March, prompting the government to
declare a state of emergency there.
The last known attack was on the town of Bosso
on March 30, although there were no casualties on
Niger's side.

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