About 15 soldiers from Chad and Niger died in fighting to take control of two towns in northern Nigeria from Boko Haram, the first gains against the militants in a joint offensive launched at the weekend, military sources said on Monday.
About 30 Nigerien and Chadian soldiers were wounded in the clashes over Malam Fatouri and Damasak, a day after thousands of troops crossed the border to seize areas held by the Sunni Islamist group, whose insurgency has forced Nigeria to delay an election and neighbors to mobilize their armies.
A Chadian officer, who asked not to be named, said about 10 Chadian soldiers were killed and 20 wounded in fighting for the towns. Two sources with Niger’s military told Reuters five of its soldiers were killed in the clashes.
There was no official comment from the armies of either Chad or Niger. “We have kicked the enemy out of these areas and they are now under our control,” a Niger military officer said.
The advancing troops had seized large quantities of arms and ammunition as well as vehicles, he said, and were undertaking a clean-up operation in the area. “The troops have taken dozens of Boko Haram elements prisoner,” he added.
Damasak, the town furthest into Nigeria, is 10 km (6 miles) south of the Niger border, where Nigerien and Chadian troops had been massing in recent weeks before the offensive.
Read More: Yahoo