Approximately 75 members of the Boko Haram armed group have been killed in the southeast Sahel state of Niger and in neighbouring Nigeria.
Twenty-five “terrorists” were killed on Monday south of Diffa, the main city in southeast Niger, while “about 50 … were neutralised” on the same day on Nigerian soil in the Lake Chad region in two operations by a regional force, the defence ministry said in a statement quoted by the AFP news agency on Wednesday.
On Monday, troops from Niger’s contingent in the regional force carried out “aggressive reconnaissance” on the banks of the Komadougou river and clashed with Boko Haram fighters at a locality 74km (45 miles) south of Diffa, the ministry said.
“All the terrorist group” comprising 25 combatants was killed, it said, adding that two soldiers were injured.
The same day, approximately 50 “enemy elements” were “neutralised” in coalition air raids and artillery bombardment of Tombon-Fulani, an island in the marshy Lake Chad region in northeastern Nigeria, the defence ministry added.
“Shelters and logistical dumps” were also destroyed, it said.
Fighters carried out a major attack against a Nigerien military camp outside Diffa on May 3, killing two soldiers and wounding three others, according to the government.
Boko Haram has killed more than 36,000 people and caused the displacement of nearly two million from their homes in northeastern Nigeria since 2009.
The violence spilled over into neighbouring Sahel countries in 2015, especially in the Lake Chad region, where the borders of Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria converge.
Diffa, a city of 200,000 people located near the Nigerian border, has been repeatedly attacked.
The region is home to 120,000 refugees from Nigeria as well as 110,000 people internally displaced within Niger, according to UN data released in October.
The countries about Lake Chad, together with Benin, have set up a combined group, the Multinational Joint Task Force, to counter the fighters.