Chad Sends Troops Into Nigeria To Battle Boko Haram
Chad has sent troops into Nigeria in an attempt to recover territory controlled by Boko Haram.
The ground offensive is the first incursion into the west African country since the African Union approved a five-country force of 7,500 troops to help fight the Islamist group last week.
Warplanes from Chad hit Boko Haram positions for about an hour, before 2,000 ground troops crossed the border in Nigeria’s far north-east.
Nigeria has drawn fierce criticism for failing to hold back the insurgents, who have stepped up their campaign of terror in the run-up to presidential and parliamentary elections on February 14.
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.”
Chad’s ground 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.
The rebels have tried to capture the strategic north-eastern Nigerian city of Maiduguri twice in the past week.
The city, where Boko Haram was founded in 2002 and which is currently swollen by hundreds of thousands of refugees from the violence, is considered one of the few places where voting could feasibly take place on February 14.
On Monday Nigerian 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 the north-eastern city of Gombe.
Eighteen people were reported injured in the attack, believed to have been carried out by two female suicide bombers.