Niger’s army says it has killed nearly 290 militants from the Boko Haram Takfiri terrorist group during an offensive near the country’s southeast border with neighboring Nigeria.
The Nigerien Defense Ministry announced in a statement on Wednesday that more than 200 terrorists had been killed in airstrikes and a further 87 by ground troops since operations began on the Island of Lake Chad and along the Komadougou Yobe River on December 28.
The Lake Chad area is a strategic region where the borders of Chad, Cameroon, Nigeria, and Niger converge. Komadougou Yobe River serves as a natural border between Niger and Nigeria.
Niger’s army said it had lost no troops or equipment in its offensive against the Takfiris, and had seized eight canoes and two rocket launchers as well as assault weapons, ammunition, and vehicles.
The Defense Ministry had warned in December last year that Boko Haram would launch fresh attacks on the country’s military positions from January 2019, when the Komadougou Yobe River’s waters begin to recede, making incursions easier.
Boko Haram, whose name roughly translates as “Western education is forbidden,” pledged allegiance to the Takfiri Daesh group in 2015.
Boko Haram’s militancy began in northeastern Nigeria in 2009 but has since spread into the neighboring countries of Niger, Chad, and Cameroon, prompting a regional military response.
Apart from targeting soldiers and civilians, the Takfiri terrorists have also been blamed for using kidnapping as a weapon of war, seizing thousands of women and young girls as well as men and young boys.
Meanwhile, Boko Haram militants attacked at least three military posts in the northeastern Nigerian State of Borno on Wednesday.
Military sources said the “troops were outgunned and forced to retreat after heavy fighting with the terrorists,” adding that the attacks led to “some losses,” without providing further details.
Last week, the Takfiri terrorists ambushed a military convoy in northeastern Nigeria, killing 13 soldiers and a policeman on a highway linking Maiduguri, the capital of Borno State, with Damaturu, in neighboring Yobe State.
Boko Haram’s nine-year militancy is estimated to have killed more than 27,000 people and forced 1.8 million others to flee their homes, also triggering a humanitarian crisis in the region.
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari’s security record has become a campaign issue ahead of a February election in which he is seeking a second term.
Buhari, a former general, came to power in 2015 on a platform of stamping out Boko Haram; but despite retaking swathes of territory from the group, Boko Haram continues to stage attacks targeting both civilians and military personnel.
Buhari’s government maintains that the militancy is close to defeat.