The Chadian army says at least eight soldiers were killed and several others wounded in fierce fighting with the Boko Haram Takfiri terrorist group on the weekend. Colonel Azem, Chad army spokesman, said on Monday that another 18 soldiers were also wounded in violent clashes on five islands on Lake Chad, which borders four countries on the edge of the Sahara.
“Our forces attacked Boko Haram elements on five islands near Nigeria on June 24 and 25,” media outlets quoted the spokesman as saying. Azem also noted that the troops had killed 162 members of the Nigeria-based terrorist group. The Chadian soldiers also destroyed six vehicles along with many of the motorcycles often favored by the Boko Haram militants in their raids, the official added.
Chad is a member of a multinational task force combating Boko Haram across its border with Nigeria, Cameroon, Niger and Benin. The force has been created with the aim of preventing a spillover of the militancy from Nigeria to those countries. In recent months, the Takfiri militants have intensified their attacks in areas near Lake Chad, stealing food from residents after raiding their farms. They have also killed several civilians they accused of cooperating with the military.
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, who came to power in 2015 with a pledge to eradicate Boko Haram, claims to have prevailed over the group’s militancy; however, frequent deadly attacks in the West African country indicate otherwise. More than 20,000 people, mostly Nigerians, have been killed since Boko Haram began waging militancy in northern Nigeria in 2009. The violence has also left another 2.6 million homeless.
Boko Haram has pledged allegiance to Daesh, a Takfiri terrorist group mainly operating in the Middle East. On Sunday, Chad’s President Idriss Deby threatened to pull the country’s troops out of peacekeeping operations in Africa because of a lack of foreign financial support. Deby indicated that N’Djamena lacked help to pay for its 2,000 men in the Joint Task Force battling Boko Haram.
“We have not at all been supported on the financial, economic side,” he said in an interview with French media, adding, “If nothing is done, if that goes on, Chad will be obliged to withdraw.” “We can’t keep being everywhere — in Niger, in Cameroon and in Mali. All that is excessively expensive.” Chad has also contributed the third-largest contingent to the UN peacekeeping mission deployed in Mali in response to the ongoing militancy, with 1,390 soldiers. Chad’s army is one of the most battle-hardened in the region.