ICC Note: On March 8, 2015, troops from Chad and Niger launched an air and ground offensive against Nigeria-based, radical Islamist group Boko Haram. Boko Haram occupies a significant portion of northeastern Nigeria, causing neighboring Chad, Niger and Cameroon to take action in recent months. The large-scale offensive, which is located along the border between Niger and Nigeria, has been successful thus far in reclaiming some of the territory occupied by Boko Haram.
By Aminu Abubakar
03/09/2015 Nigeria (CNN) – Hundreds of troops from Chad and Niger launched a ground and aerial offensive against Boko Haram in northeastern Nigeria on Sunday, according to residents and military sources from Niger.
The sweeping offensive is taking place along the Niger-Nigeria border, sources said, effectively opening a new front in the fight against the Islamist terror group.
This comes a day after Boko Haram pledged allegiance to ISIS in an audio message purported to be from leader Abubakar Shekau.
“Early this morning, troops from Niger and Chad launched ground and air raids against Boko Haram into Nigeria, and the operation is still continuing,” said a military official in the border town of Diffa, Niger.
“It is an intensive operation that is aimed at pulverizing Boko Haram and crippling their capability,” according to the source. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to comment publicly about the operation.
Residents said artillery fire and fighter jets pushed Boko Haram fighters into the Damasak district of Nigeria, which is a Boko Haram enclave.
“Around 6 a.m., soldiers from Niger and Chad in huge numbers confronted Boko Haram around the Doutchi area outside Diffa and later crossed the bridge into Nigeria,” said Diffa resident Ari Boubakarna.
“We heard huge explosions from artillery fire and fighter jets, but the explosions receded as the troops moved further into Nigeria,” Boubakarna continued.
A journalist working in Diffa saw troops headed toward the border with Nigeria, where Boko Haram fighters had taken up positions.
”They left in a huge convoy of over 200 vehicles, some of them fitted with machine guns, including armored tanks, ambulances, water tankers and cargo trucks, which indicate they were going for a prolonged operation,” the journalist said.