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Over 200 Boko Haram Terrorists Killed In Gamboru, Ngala In Borno State

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Gamboru (Nigeria) (AFP) – Chad said Wednesday it inflicted heavy losses on

Nigeria's Boko Haram, killing “over 200″ Islamist militants in a border

town that it wrested from the rebels in a ground offensive.

Nine Chadian soldiers were also killed and 21 injured Tuesday in Gamboru

as regional forces took the fight against the insurgents on to Nigerian

soil for the first time, the Chadian army said.
“This toll is provisional,” the Chadian military said in a statement,

adding that troops were still combing the town on Nigeria's border with

Cameroon for lingering rebel elements.
Around 2,000 Chadian troops backed by armoured vehicles poured across the

border into Gamboru on Tuesday after the African Union last week backed a

regional force to take on the extremists.
The sound of automatic gunfire could heard Wednesday in the town, which

has been abandoned by residents after a barrage of air strikes by Chad in

the run-up to its offensive, an AFP journalist reported.

While the operation in Gamboru continued, the town of Fotokol on the other

side of the border, in Cameroon, came under fresh attack from the

“The guys (Boko Haram) entered this morning. The fighting between them and

our soldiers is very intense,” a Cameroonian security source in Fotokol

told AFP by telephone.
The Cameroonian troops had managed to repel the attack by mid-morning,

after Chadian soldiers crossed back from Nigeria to help defend the town.

- 'Hunt them everywhere' -
In Gamboru, the clashes left scenes of desolation, with bodies lying on

the ground, houses destroyed, shops gutted and trucks charred.

“We have routed this band of terrorists,” the commander of the Chadian

contingent Ahmat Dari told AFP Tuesday, vowing to “hunt them down

Nigeria's military has drawn fierce criticism for failing to hold back the

insurgents, who have stepped up their campaign of terror in country's

northeast in the run-up to presidential and parliamentary elections on

February 14.
In recent months the group has also carried out increasing cross-border

raids, threatening regional security.
Chad's intervention reflects the growing nervousness among Nigeria's

neighbours over the prospect of Boko Haram achieving its stated aim of

carving out an Islamic caliphate on their borders.
- Nigerian sovereignty 'intact' -
Nigerian defence spokesman Chris Olukolade denied that the presence of

foreign troops on Nigerian soil compromised the country's sovereignty.

“Nigeria's territorial integrity remains intact,” he said, claiming

national forces had “planned and are driving the present onslaught against

terrorists from all fronts in Nigeria, not the Chadian forces”.

Regional forces have gone into action on several fronts.

Chadian troops and vehicles have massed near Boko Haram-held towns along

Nigeria's border with Niger, pointing the way to another possible

cross-border operation.
“A contingent of about 400 vehicles and tanks is stationed between Mamori

and Bosso,” Niger's private radio Anfani reported.
- French help -
France is supporting the operations by carrying out reconnaissance flights

over border areas of Chad and Cameroon, defence officials in Paris said.

At least 13,000 people have been killed and more than a million forced

from their homes since Boko Haram launched an insurgency in 2009.

The group has stepped up its attacks in recent weeks, in a move believed

to be aimed at disrupting the elections.
The rebels have tried, in vain, to capture the strategic northeastern town

of Maiduguri twice in the past week.
On Monday, President Goodluck Jonathan — who is running for re-election

against a former military ruler who has vowed to defeat Boko Haram –

escaped a suspected suicide bomb attack after attending a campaign rally

in Gombe in the northeast.
Chad's President Idriss Deby sent soldiers to Cameroon in mid-January to

assist troops from Yaounde fighting increasing rebel incursions in the

country's far northeast.
N'Djamena was already part of a long-standing regional force with Niger

and Nigeria in the Lake Chad area.
But that force had been assumed to be moribund after Boko Haram overran

the multi-national base in Baga, northern Borno state, on January 3, in an

attack that also left hundreds of civilians feared dead.

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