Boko Haram’s Attack in Niger
Earlier today, Islamic militants from the Nigerian group Boko Haram attacked the town of Bosso in the neighboring country of Niger, marking the group’s second foreign attack this week. However, the attackers were repelled by forces from Chad and Niger. This incursion comes after Niger and several other African countries plan to send troops to battle Boko Haram, which are becoming a major threat to not only Nigeria, but West and Central Africa as a whole. Even though it wasn’t immediately clear if there were casualties in the early morning attack on Bosso. Soldiers from Niger and Chad rushed to the scene, engaging in an hour-long firefight which led to Boko Haram’s retreat.
Currently, Niger and Chadian planes are conducting surveillance in town, while troops on the ground are combing through the streets. The area of Niger where the attack occurred is already crowded by Nigerian refugees. On January 31, Boko Haram fighters vowed to “seek revenge” on Niger if they aided the growing military effort against them. Yesterday and Wednesday, Boko Haram fighters attacked Fotokol, in Cameroon, in an attack that led to nearly 100 people dead and around 500 wounded. They razed mosques and churches, using civilians as human shields before Cameroonian forces pushed them back across the border to Nigeria.
These cross-border assaults came after Boko Haram was bombed out of several Nigerian towns earlier this week by jets from Nigeria and Chad. Cameroon and Chad both joined Nigeria in launching offensives against the insurgents on at least two fronts this week. More neighboring countries have been mobilizing to help Nigeria fight Boko Haram, with regional leaders scheduled to meet today to finalize plans for a coordinated military response to the terror group, who have killed an estimated 10,000 people in the past year. Last week, leaders of the African Union authorized a 7,500-strong force to fight Boko Haram, including pledges of troops from Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Benin. The UN have also offered logistical support. However, the deployment of the multinational African force could be delayed because of funding.
Boko Haram has been increasing both the tempo and ferocity of their attacks just as Nigeria has been preparing for presidential and legislative elections, scheduled for February 14th. Last year alone, some 10,000 people were killed during Boko Haram-related violence, compared to just 2,000 in the first four years of Nigeria’s Islamic uprising.