MS Risk Blog

Boko Haram Launches First Attack on Niger

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Witnesses reported Friday that Nigeria’s Boko Haram militant group has attacked a town in neighbouring Niger for the first time.

The attack targeted the Nigerien border town of Bosso, which is located just across the border from Nigeria. Fighting broke out around 9:00 AM (0800 GMT). According to one resident, locals “…can hear the sound of weapons all around the town…” adding “there is the noise of heavy weapons and of light arms, making our houses shake.” Yacouba Soumana Gaoh, governor of the regional capital of Diffa confirmed the attack, stating that troops pushed back the attack by the end of the morning, adding that by noon, order was restored. On the ground sources have reported that Niger’s army, alongside troops from Chad who have been stationed in Bosso since Monday, took on the Nigerian armed militants, adding that Boko Haram “took the municipality” for a time before being “driven back to Nigeria.” The attack comes as Niger’s parliament in the capital city Niamey is due to vote on 9 February on a proposal to send troops to Nigeria to fight Boko Haram.

Friday’s incident is the militant group’s second attack on a neighbouring country in the past two days. On Thursday, Boko Haram militants reportedly killed at least seventy people in an attack on the town of Fotokol in Cameroon. According to local officials, the militants attacked civilians in their homes and in the town’s mosque, setting many buildings on fire, including the mosque. Residents of Fotokol have reported that the militants had killed many people by slitting their throats. The militants were eventually driven back by Cameroonian troops, backed by Chadian forces, who had been deployed to the nearby Nigerian town of Gamboru as part of a regional force.   The attack came a day after a regional force indicated that it had driven the militants from a Nigerian town located near Fotokol.

On Tuesday, Chadian army disclosed that its troops had killed more than 200 militants in a battle to recapture Gamboru. Officials did note that some of the militants had escaped the offensive. Chadian troops have entered Nigeria and Cameroon to join the fight against Boko Haram.

The latest attacks come as Nigeria’s influential council of state announced Thursday that it has decided to go ahead with the presidential elections on 14 February, rejecting calls for a postponement.

Last month, Nigeria’s national security adviser had called for a delay to allow more time for voter card distribution. Officials have also raised their concerns over the on-going insurgency in northeastern Nigeria, which in recent months has seen Boko Haram mount its attacks both in Nigeria and in neighbouring Cameroon. However Imo state governor Rochas Okorocha indicated Thursday that election officials have insisted that they are “very ready.” Reports also emerged Thursday that a Nigerian government spokesperson disclosed that intelligence reports have indicated that the militant group is planning steal voter cards from women in a bid to use them to get suicide bombers into polling stations. In recent months, Boko Haram has increasingly been using female suicide bombers to carry out deadly attacks across northeastern Nigeria.

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