Hundreds killed as Chadian military overruns Boko Haram strongholds

Hundreds of suspected Boko Haram fighters have been killed since January 31 as Chadian forces, backed by Nigerian and French aircraft, overran the jihadist group’s strongholds in northern Nigeria. The latest outbreak of fighting occurred after members of Boko Haram ambushed Chadian forces who had been staging in nearby Cameroon.

The Chadian military has liberated the Nigerian towns of Baga, Dikwa, Malam Fatori, Damasak, Ngala and parts of Bama in the past four days, according to a spokesman for a Nigerian militia group and reported by Bloomberg.

Details of the fighting were also reported by the Globe and Mail:

“Chad’s army said its troops were attacked Tuesday [February 3] in Cameroon by Boko Haram…

‘Our valiant forces responded vigorously, a chase was immediately instituted all the way to their base at Gamboru and Ngala [in Nigeria], where they were completely wiped out,’ spokesman Col. Azem Bermendoa said on national television Tuesday night.

More than 200 extremists and nine Chadian troops were killed, he said.

On Wednesday, hundreds of Boko Haram fighters driven out of Gamboru crossed the border and attacked Chadian military posts in Fotokol, in far northern Cameroon, residents and military officers said.

This week’s military actions mark the biggest offensive against Boko Haram in its more than five-year history.

Cameroonian forces are assisting Chadian forces in countering the Boko Haram assault in Fotokol, and fighting remains ongoing. In Nigeria, Chadian and Nigerian attack jets and helicopters continue to assault jihadist positions in and around the strategic town of Gamboru, which Boko Haram has occupied since last year.

In late January, Chadian forces countered a Boko Haram ambush near Malam Fatori and reportedly killed 120 insurgents, according to regional reports. Three Chadian soldiers were also reported killed in the fighting.

The African Union (AU) has authorized a Multinational Joint Task Force [MJTF] of 7,500 troops from Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon, Niger and Benin to wage war against Boko Haram, although further meetings this week are expected to refine the MJTF’s mandate. Currently, there are approximately 2,000 Chadian personnel operating in and around the Boko Haram-occupied border area of northern Nigeria. France, a key ally of Niger, Chad and Cameroon, has also announced its participation in the offensive against the jihadist group, and confirmed supplying surveillance aircraft to assist the Chadian assault against Gamboru.

More details were provided by Newsweek:

Despite French president Francois Hollande’s previous claims that French warplanes were operating in Nigerian airspace, French officials have since confirmed that French operations are limited to the airspace of Nigeria’s neighbours, Chad and Niger.

“Our air force is carrying out reconnaissance missions, but not over Nigeria,” a French defence ministry source told Reuters today. “Our support is limited to neighbouring countries such as Chad and Niger,” the source added.

Fighting is expected to increase as the MJTF eventually pierces deeper into Boko Haram occupied territories in northern Nigeria.

Tags: , , , ,

8 Comments

  • m3fd2002 says:

    I seriously doubt the casualty figures given by Col. Azem Bermendoa. Totally for domestic consumption. Let’s see what happens in the next few months.

  • mike merlo says:

    it ‘appears’ that French presence in Sahara Africa is paying ‘dividends.’ It also ‘appears’ that the French Military has quietly been increasing its presence in Djibouti. Does this portend an incursion of consequence by the French into Yemen? Where is the Charles de Gaulle or France’s Mistral/Foudre Class of Ships?

  • Mike in San Diego says:

    Well, that is a little good news.

  • Mark says:

    The shame of it is that the Nigerian armed forces absolutely had the assets/manpower to undertake this offensive months ago unilaterally.

  • C-Low says:

    Chad is really stepping up in W Africa. They are no shinning star of democracy but better than most in the region anyway. Regardless Chad and Ethiopia are the most proactive participants in fighting the spread of Islamist terrorism in W E Africa. We should support.

  • Chad’s military seems not to need the West’s magical machine which will detect whether a Islamist Jihadi is inside an approaching automobile.
    (Freely paraphrasing a British officer who was asked for one of those by a senior member of Nigeria’s military staff.)

  • Eric says:

    Regarding the French activity in West-Central Africa, since the conflict in 2013 with Al-Qaeda in the Maghreb (AQIM), France has maintained a moderately sized military contingent in the area. They were present in Bangui in 2014, and also in Ouagadougou, securing and protecting French nationals and interests. Since 2013, the French military has become much more aggressive vis-à-vis its former colonies and their state of military preparedness. Chad is a good example. France has been training and equipping the Chad Army and fledgling Air Force, and the results have been positive. Niger has also responded well to French military training. France has had limited success with the Malian Army, unfortunately. At times, they are an effective combat force (by African standards), and at other times they have been pushed around. What will be interesting to see is if France’s intended goal of providing sufficient training to the francophone countries to remove the need for actual French military involvement. I will be watching to see if the French eventually feel obliged to introduce actual French ground elements in Nigeria/Cameroon/Chad, since they are already active in Mali. Also what will be of interest will be the actions of L’armee d’air. Will the French Air Force be content to act in a support role, or will be see Mirages overhead? Djibouti….France appears to have a permanent lease on a least a piece of this tiny country. The French military has a long and positive history in Djibouti, and is an overall positive presence. Unless the government gets a wild hair, I can’t see the French presence changing. The U.S. also has a military presence in Djibouti, with everyone looking across the Arabian Sea to Yemen. Interesting question about possible French involvement in Yemen. I just can’t see the angle. Yemen is not a Francophone nation, and has no colonial or historic ties to France. The French may be interested in blasting away at Al-Qaeda, who appear to feel safest hiding around the southern coast, just east of Aden. But to introduce the CDG into the mix would be taking a huge risk. Since France made the economic decision to forego construction of the second carrier in the class, the CDG (mechanical snafus et al) has become more than just a military resource. It is a national symbol, and I can’t imagine the Hollande government risking a suicide torpedo/boat/ship/plane or some other scheme that might damage the carrier. Actually, I don’t think its necessary. If France wanted to conduct air operations over Yemen, all they would need to do is move the requisite number of jets to Djibouti. They either have an airfield or have access to an airfield that will support a squadron of Mirages.

  • mike merlo says:

    “Interesting question about possible French involvement in Yemen. I just can’t see the angle. Yemen is not a Francophone nation, and has no colonial or historic ties to France. The French may be interested in blasting away at Al-Qaeda, who appear to feel safest hiding around the southern coast, just east of Aden. But to introduce the CDG into the mix would be taking a huge risk.”
    To date it has been alleged that the Charlie Hebdo perpetrators were inspired(directed?) by AQ in Yemen(which you yourself alluded to).
    “In January 2015, Charles de Gaulle(CDG) began being prepped for exercises in the Indian Ocean. French officials have left open the possibility that once there, the carrier and its battle group may be sent to the Persian Gulf to participate in Opération Chammal against Islamic State militants in Iraq.” Wikipedia
    As an aside ‘it’ has also been alleged that the Kouachi brothers, the Charlie Hebdo murderer’s, who claimed allegiance to AQ Yemen were acquaintances(friends?) with Coulibaly, Hypercacher Kosher Market murderer, who claimed allegiance to ISIS/ISISL. Further complicating the dual murderous assault’s was communication with the French Authorities on the part of Coulibaly threatening to kill his hostages if the Kouachi brothers were harmed

Iraq

Islamic state

Syria

Aqap

Al shabaab

Boko Haram

Isis