Gallant Chadians Retake Border Town

Chadian forces scored a key victory over boko haram on Tuesday, wresting control of the border town of Gamboru within hours of launching a ground offensive against the jihadist group.

Around 2,000 Chadian troops backed by armoured vehicles crossed the border into Gamboru from the Cameroonian town of Fotokol after days of clashes with the insurgents.

By Tuesday evening, the troops had taken control of the town, according to an AFP journalist in Gamboru, leaving scenes of desolation, with houses destroyed, shops gutted and trucks charred.

The residents and remaining fighters appeared to have fled.

No official death toll from the fighting was immediately available. A Chadian military source said eight Chadian soldiers were killed and around 20 injured.

The AFP journalist saw bodies lying on the ground.

“We have routed this group of terrorists,” the commander of the Chadian contingent Ahmat Dari told AFP, vowing to continue the fight against the insurgents “until the end”.

The ground intervention by Chad came after the African Union last week backed a regional five-nation, 7,500-strong force to take on the extremists amid growing fears about their threat to regional security.

nigeria has drawn fierce criticism for failing to hold back the insurgents, who have stepped up their campaign of terror in country’s northeast in the run-up to presidential and parliamentary elections on February 14.

Defence spokesman Chris Olukolade denied that the presence of foreign troops on Nigerian soil compromised the country’s sovereignty.

“Nigeria’s territorial integrity remains intact,” he defended, claiming national forces had “planned and are driving the present onslaught against terrorists from all fronts in Nigeria, not the Chadian forces.”

Chad’s intervention reflects the growing nervousness among Nigeria’s neighbours over the prospect of boko haram achieving its stated aim of carving out an Islamic caliphate on their borders.

The rebels have tried, in vain, to capture the strategic northeastern Nigerian town of Maiduguri twice in the past week.

On Monday, President Goodluck Jonathan — who is running for re-election against a former military ruler who has vowed to defeat boko haram — escaped a suspected suicide bomb attack after attending a campaign rally in Gombe in the northeast.

Eighteen people were reported injured in the attack believed to have been carried out by two female suicide bombers.

– 2,000 Chadian troops –

After days of air strikes by Chadian war planes on Gamboru, Chadian forces crossed a bridge from the Cameroonian town of Fotokol to enter Gamboru.

The operation began with another barrage of air strikes lasting about an hour.

Chadian forces have also taken up position close to boko haram strongholds along Nigeria’s border with Niger.

“A contingent of about 400 vehicles and tanks is stationed between Mamori and Bosso,” Niger’s private radio Anfani reported.

The massing of troops in Niger was seen as pointing the way to an imminent attack on Malam Fatori, a town held by the Islamists on the Nigerian side of a river that separates the two countries.

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