Six people, including two soldiers, died in overnight Boko Haram attacks near Lake Chad, security and army sources said on Saturday, saying Chadian troops had killed 17 militants in a counter-offensive.
Three forestry officials, a customs officer and two soldiers were killed in attacks on Moussarom and Ngueleya located in the Lake Chad region, south of Baga Sola, a security source told AFP.
“The attackers were later repelled,” the source said.
Chadian army spokesperson Colonel Azam said “17 Boko Haram members have been killed” although he put the civilian death toll at three instead of four.
The last Boko Haram attack on the Chadian side of the lake happened on July 22 in which 18 people were killed in a village south of Daboua near the border with Niger.
Boko Haram took up arms in 2009 in pursuit of an Islamic state in northern Nigeria. More than 27,000 people have been killed during the nine-year insurgency, which has spread to neighboring states bordering Lake Chad.
Chad, Cameroon and Niger have all joined the military effort by Nigeria to crush Boko Haram. Chad has seen a recent increase in attacks by the group.
The insurgency and military operations around Lake Chad have displaced 2.4 million people and about 11 million people in Chad, Niger, Nigeria and Cameroon rely on humanitarian assistance to survive, a group of NGOs said in August.
Boko Haram is divided into two factions that have competing goals and operational methods. One, led by Abubakar Shekau, is notorious for suicide bombings and indiscriminate killings of civilians. The other, known as Islamic State West Africa Province and led by Abu Mus’ab Al-Barnawi, largely focuses on attacking military and government targets.
ISWAP is dominant around the shores of Lake Chad in Nigeria’s Borno state, while the Shekau-led faction is concentrated in rural areas of the state.
More radical elements are said to have taken over the ISWAP leadership, prompting fears of an upsurge in violence against the local population. ISWAP has previously vowed to hit only military and government “hard” targets.
With reporting from AFP