Chad takes on Boko Haram
Nigerian Boko Haram fighters went on the rampage in the Cameroonian border town of Fotokol yesterday, massacring civilians and torching a mosque before being repelled by regional forces.
The onslaught came a day after Chad sent troops across the border to flush the jihadists out of the Nigerian town of Gamboru, which lies some 500 metres from Fotokol on the other side of a bridge.
Chad's army said it had killed more than 200 Boko Haram militants in the intervention -- the first by regional forces against Boko Haram on its home ground.
But some of the insurgents escaped and slipped back across the border into Fotokol at dawn to make a fresh stand.
"Boko Haram inflicted so much damage here this morning. They have killed dozens of people," Umar Babakalli, a resident of Fotokol, told AFP by telephone.
Several residents said civilians' throats were slit and that the town's main mosque was torched.
After several hours of clashes Cameroonian troops, backed by Chadian forces who scrambled back from Nigeria to help guard the town, managed to repel the assault.
"People are coming back little by little to assess the damage. The survivors among the attackers have left the town," a source close to the Cameroonian security services said.
No official death toll was immediately available.
On Tuesday, nine Chadian soldiers were killed and 21 were injured in Gamboru after around 2,000 troops backed by armoured vehicles poured across the border to take the fight to Boko Haram after days of clashes.
The sound of automatic gunfire could still be heard yesterday in the town as the troops combed the town for remaining rebel elements.
The intervention came days after the African Union backed plans for a 7,500-strong five-nation regional force to take on the extremists, who control vaste swathes of northeast Nigeria.
France is supporting the operations by carrying out reconnaissance flights over border areas of Chad and Cameroon to provide them with intelligence, 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.