In its bid to tackle Islamists who have pledged allegiance to Islamic State militant, troops from Chad and Niger have doubled efforts to retake the north-eastern Nigerian town of Damasak.
Boko Haram had held the town near the Niger border since November, part of a swathe of territory it had taken over in Nigeria’s northeast, where the group’s six-year insurgency has been based.
“The offensive has allowed for control to be taken of Damasak,” a Chadian security source said on Monday.
According to the source, some 200 Boko Haram fighters were left dead in the offensive that began Sunday, while 10 Chadian soldiers were killed and 20 wounded.
There was however no independent verification of the casualty figures. A hospital source in Niger’s Diffa, across the border from Damasak, spoke of 33 soldiers wounded, without providing their nationalities.
A Niger official in Diffa also said Damasak had been retaken after heavy fighting.
The offensive, which followed a sustained build-up of troops in southern Niger, opened up a new front in regional efforts to wipe out the Islamist group, whose six-year insurgency has spread across borders.