Suspected Boko Haram militants have conducted their first-ever raid in Chad, attacking a village just across the border from the extremist group’s stronghold in northeast Nigeria.
Reuters says the assault took place about 12 miles east of the border at the village of Ngouboua inside Chad, which, like Nigeria, is a Muslim-majority country with a substantial Christian minority.
The news agency says dozens of militants arrived by motorized canoe at the village on the shores of Lake Chad, which straddles the border. The assailants set houses ablaze and attacked a police station.
“They came on board three pirogues and succeeded in killing about 10 people before being pushed back by the army,” a resident of Ngouboua was quoted by Reuters as saying. The town has become a veritable refugee camp for thousands fleeing the fighting in Nigeria.
Reuters says: “Militants from the Sunni jihadist group, based in northern Nigeria less than [60 miles] from the Chadian capital, have stepped up cross-border attacks in recent weeks in their campaign to carve out an Islamist emirate [around Lake Chad], which borders Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon and Niger.” Last month, Boko Haram made a similar raid on a village in northern Cameroon.
According to The New York Times, Chad, Cameroon and Benin have agreed to contribute troops to an 8,700-strong force to fight Boko Haram, as fighting has “increasingly spilled across borders in the region.”
The Times writes:
“Nigeria’s war has spread to its smaller, poorer neighbor, Niger. In Diffa, the main city in the country’s far east, just across the border from Nigeria, ‘people are in a panic,’ the head of the Red Cross in Diffa, Abdullai Adah, said by phone on Tuesday, after a bombing at a vegetable market and an attack on the city’s prison the day before. At least eight were killed, Mr. Adah said.”
Archbishop Ignatius Ayau Kaigama, who is president of the Nigerian Bishops Conference, is warning that the extremists, who kidnapped hundreds of schoolgirls last year and reportedly sold them into marriage, could affect the wider continent.
“I’m not sure [the West understands] the magnitude of what is happening and how, gradually, this is capable of destabilizing the entire nation, the surrounding countries and, eventually, all of Africa,” Kaigama said in an interview by phone with The Huffington Post. “When Africa is affected in such a manner, you can be sure that the West will feel the heat also.”