Boko Haram Kills Nine Soldiers In Chad – Army

Al-Shabaab, Christians, KenyaBoko Haram militants have killed nine Chadian soldiers in an attack on a military camp on Friday in the north of the Central African country close to the Nigerian border, an army spokesman said on Saturday.

“On our side, there are nine dead and 28 wounded,” Colonel Azem Bermandoua told Reuters, adding that 28 militants were killed. The army said that Boko Haram carried out the attack.

Over the last seven years, Boko Haram has killed 15,000 people and displaced more than two million in its bid to create an Islamic state in Nigeria. A regional force that includes troops from Chad has retaken much of its territory in the last two years.

The group has largely focused its attacks on northeast Nigeria, neighboring Cameroon and Niger, with attacks in Chad less frequent.

11 Chadian Soldiers Killed In Boko Haram Attack

Chadian soldiersA Chadian security source alleges that Boko Haram members have attacked Chadian soldiers, killing 11 and wounding 13.

The source added that 17 Boko Haram fighters also died in the fighting following the pre-dawn strike near the Nigerian border and Lake Chad.

The source was quoted as saying “Boko Haram members attacked our positions at 4:30 am in Kaiga Ngouboua about two kilometres (about a mile) from the Nigerian border.”

The Chadian Army has been on the front line of a regional military operation against Boko Haram, whose attacks have spread from northeast Nigeria, its traditional stronghold, to the neighbouring countries of Chad, Niger and Cameroon.

9 Chadian Soldiers Killed In Boko Haram Ambush

Chadian soldiersThe Chadian Army says that nine of its men have been killed and 16 wounded after being ambushed by Boko Haram fighters in north-eastern Nigeria.

A Chadian military spokesman says the attack took place about 10 kilometres (six miles) from the town of Malam Fatori, which Niger said had been retaken by regional forces from the militants earlier in the week.

“Elements of the Chad-Niger (military alliance) were killed in a pocket of resistance,” Colonel Azem Bermandoa Agouna told the AFP.

“After heavy fighting, the armed forces of Chad and Niger totally cleaned up the zone,” the spokesman added.

Two Chadian Army Helicopters Bomb Boko Haram Positions

Boko_Haram_Gombe_AttackTwo Chadian army helicopters bombed Boko Haram positions on Sunday, killing several dozen militants near a village on the border with Niger, a senior Niger military official told Reuters.

Niger and Chadian soldiers have been fighting the Islamist militants in a joint mission with Nigeria and Cameroon since March 2, in a bid to end Boko Haram’s six-year insurgency in north-east Nigeria.

The helicopters destroyed several vehicles and motorcycles carrying fighters in the village of Djaboullam, which lies east across the border from the Niger town of Diffa, the Niger officer said.

“Niger and Chad had received intelligence that a group of Boko Haram fighters had gathered in the border village,” the officer said.

The Niger military officer, who requested anonymity, said Boko Haram fighters had moved to Djaboullam after they were chased from other towns by the Nigerian army.

Militants were also gathering in other border towns from where they routinely launch mortar rounds into Niger, he said.

“We know they are massing in Malam Fatori, waiting for us to come,” he said, referring to another north-east town about three kilometers (2 miles) from Bosso, the nearest town across the border in Niger.

The regional offensive launched this year came as Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country and biggest economy, prepares to hold elections on March 28.

The offensive has succeeded in driving the militants from several towns and districts they previously held. Chad and Niger forces captured the town of Damasak from the militants last week.

Chad Says Al Qaeda Commander Killed In Mali, France Cautious

One of al Qaeda’s most feared commanders in Africa, Abdelhamid Abou Zeid, has been killed by Chadian forces in northern Mali, Chad’s President Idriss Deby said on Friday.

French officials said they could not confirm the report.

“It was Chadian forces who killed two jihadi leaders, including Abou Zeid,” Deby told opposition politicians in the presence of journalists after a funeral ceremony for Chadian soldiers killed in fighting at the weekend.

Chadian soldiers with support from French special forces and fighter jets are hunting down pockets of al Qaeda-linked insurgents in the border region with Algeria after a seven-week French-led campaign broke Islamist domination of northern Mali.

The death of Abou Zeid, who has earned AQIM tens of millions of dollars with a spate of kidnappings of Westerners in the Sahara over the last five years, would be a significant but far from fatal blow to the group.

Mokhtar Belmokhtar, the one-eyed mastermind of a mass hostage-taking at the In Amenas gas plant in Algeria last month, remains at large. So does Tuareg Islamist leader Iyad ag Ghali, who was this week placed on the U.S. global terrorist list.

Sources close to Islamist militants and tribal elders had earlier said Abou Zeid, blamed for kidnapping at least 20 Westerners in the Sahara, was among 40 militants killed within the past few days in the foothills of the Adrar des Ifoghas mountains.

Algeria’s Ennahar television, which is well connected with Algerian security services, had reported his death on Thursday but there was no official confirmation.

A former smuggler turned jihadi, Algerian-born Abou Zeid is regarded as one of the most ruthless operators of al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). He is believed to have executed British hostage Edwin Dyer in 2009 and 78-year-old Frenchman Michel Germaneau in 2010.

A trusted lieutenant of AQIM’s leader Abdelmalek Droukdel, Abou Zeid imposed a violent form of sharia law during Islamist domination of the ancient desert town of Timbuktu, including amputations and the destruction of ancient Sufi shrines.

“The death of Abou Zeid has been confirmed by several of his supporters who have come back from the mountains,” said Ibrahim Oumar Toure, a mechanic in the northern Malian town of Kidal who worked with Islamist rebels and remains in contact with them.

Members of the MNLA Tuareg rebel group, who have been acting as scouts for French and Chadian forces, said Islamist prisoners seized during the fighting confirmed Abou Zeid and another militant leader had been killed.

However, French government spokeswoman Najat Vallaud-Belkacem said she could neither confirm nor deny the report, and French officials urged caution. An official MNLA spokesman said the group had no evidence to prove he was dead.

French radio RFI and Algerian daily El Khabar reported that DNA tests were being conducted on members of Abou Zeid’s family to confirm whether a body recovered by French troops after fighting in Adrar des Ifoghas was indeed the Islamist leader.

HOLLANDE SAYS OPERATION NEARS END

In a speech on Friday, French President Francois Hollande said the operation in Mali was in its final stage and he was not obliged to confirm Abou Zeid’s death.

“Terrorist groups have taken refuge and are hiding in an especially difficult zone,” he said. “Information is out there. I don’t have to confirm it because we must reach the end of the operation.”

A U.S. official and a Western diplomat, however, said the reports appeared to be credible.

According to local sources in Kidal, MNLA Tuareg rebels, who are working with French forces, had located Abou Zeid’s fighters and handed over the coordinates for French jets to strike.

“They were hidden in mountain caves and were building bombs for suicide attacks when they were killed,” Toure said.

Abou Zeid’s death will be of particular interest to the French government as he is believed to be holding at least four French citizens kidnapped from Niger in 2010.

After its success in dislodging al Qaeda fighters from northern Mali’s towns, France and its African allies have faced a mounting wave of suicide bombings and guerrilla-style raids by Islamists in northern Malian towns.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in Geneva on Friday that a U.N. peacekeeping force to replace French troops in Mali should be discussed as soon as possible.