DIKWA, Chad (Reuters) - Chadian troops have driven Boko Haram militants out of the northeast Nigerian town of Dikwa, losing one soldier in the battle, an army spokesman said on Monday.
Chad has deployed thousands of soldiers in strategic positions around Lake Chad in an effort to contain the radical jihadist group within Nigeria, sometimes chasing them across the border. Its efforts have intensified since Boko Haram attacked the Chadian village of Ngouboua last month, killing several people in the first known lethal attack in the country.
“We have total control of the town,” said Colonel Azem Bermandoua. He added that many Boko Haram fighters had also been killed in the clashes on Monday in northeastern Nigeria, the Islamist group’s stronghold.
A Reuters reporter on the scene said black and white Boko Haram flags still flew in a town deserted of residents after several weeks of occupation.
In a separate incident, Niger, whose army is also fighting the militants, said it had killed six Boko Haram fighters on Saturday near the village of Bossi. Two of their vehicles were then destroyed by Chad’s air forces, the army said.
Boko Haram has killed thousands of people and kidnapped hundreds in its attempt to create an Islamic caliphate in Nigeria, although the tide appears to be turning. Nigeria’s army has won significant battles against them in recent weeks, raising hopes that the country’s delayed presidential election will go ahead peacefully on March 28.
Reporting by Madjiasra Nako, writing by Emma Farge; editing by Ralph Boulton, G Crosse