Regional Force Says 70 Jihadists Killed in Lake Chad

At least 70 militants were killed in land, air, and naval operations around Lake Chad, where a multi-national security force is fighting jihadist groups, according to the regional military alliance.

The vast Lake Chad region, shared by Nigeria, Niger, Cameroon, and Chad, is a notorious bolthole for both Boko Haram and splinter group Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP).

They have set up camps on islands in its marshlands and are locked in a struggle for territorial control.

“Recent aerial operations have successfully obliterated terrorist camps situated on islets across the Cameroonian and Nigerian territories of Lake Chad, killing many terrorists and causing others to flee into Chad,” the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) said in a statement on Monday.

In Chad, the fighters were pursued by the Chadian Rapid Intervention Force, MNJTF spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Abubakar Abdullahi said in the statement.

“This action neutralized 70 terrorists and dismantled 5 camps,” he said, without specifying which group was targeted.

The Chadian army on Sunday said that “more than 70 terrorists were put out of action” with the help of the Rapid Intervention Force, an elite unit recently created by Chad’s President Mahamat Idriss Deby Itno.

The Chadian military described its actions as a “series of air-land nautical military manoeuvres.”

The MNJTF, involving troops from Nigeria, Niger, Chad, and Cameroon, was formed in 1994 primarily to combat cross-border crime. Its mandate was later expanded to include fighting jihadists whose armed campaigns have spread from Nigeria into neighboring countries.

On Saturday multiple suicide bombings in the northeast Nigerian town of Gwoza near the border with Cameroon killed more than 30 people and left dozens injured in the latest violence to hit the region, which authorities blamed on Boko Haram.

The suicide attacks highlighted Nigeria’s struggle to end the grinding jihadist conflict that has claimed over 40,000 lives and displaced around two million people in the country’s northeast since 2009.

On Tuesday army spokesman Major General Edward Buba said the bombings were “a response to recent successes in ongoing military operations.”

In recent weeks, the Nigerian military has intensified air strikes on jihadist camps in Lake Chad, putting pressure on the militants who have responded with deadly attacks on fishermen, accusing them of providing information on their positions to the military.

Nigeria is also fighting gangs of criminals known as bandits in the northwest and central region, where they raid villages, kill and abduct residents, and burn homes after looting them.

On Monday four Nigerian policemen were killed when bandits opened fire on a police patrol van in an ambush outside Zandam village in Katsina state’s Jibia district near the border with Niger, a police spokesman said.

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