At least 86 militants of the Takfiri terrorist group Boko Haram have been killed in an operation carried out by Cameroon’s army in the country’s Waza region near the border with Nigeria.
Defense Ministry spokesman Didier Badjeck said Monday that five Cameroonian soldiers also lost their lives in the operation.
A military official also said that over 1,000 Boko Haram suspects were being held in a prison in the town of Maroua.
“At the moment, the prison of Maroua is holding more than 1,000 Boko Haram (suspects),” said Colonel Joseph Nouma.
The development came as Nigerien police announced that more than 160 suspected elements of the Nigeria-based terrorist group were arrested near the border with Niger.
“We would like to warmly thank the residents of the Diffa region whose assistance has allowed us to arrest more than 160 suspects,” said Nigerien national police spokesman Adily Toro on Monday on a local television network.
Nigeria also said that its army retook the control the strategic garrison town of Monguno in the northeast from Boko Haram.
“Troops in a military operation spearheaded by highly coordinated air assaults have completed the mission of clearing terrorists from Monguno and environs this morning,” Nigerian Defense Ministry spokesman Chris Olukolade said.
Boko Haram issued a statement on Monday threatening Niger and Chad with bomb attacks
The Takfiri group criticized Niger for joining the military campaign against the militants.
“If you insist on continuing the aggression and the coalition with the government of Chad, then we give you glad tidings that the land of Niger is easier than the land of Nigeria and moving the war to the depth of your cities will be the first reaction toward any aggression that occurs after this statement,” it said.
Anti-Boko Haram fund
The warning came as leaders from Niger and other African countries gathered in the Cameroonian capital, Yaounde, to finalize plans for a joint offensive against the militants who have stepped up their attacks in recent weeks.
The Monday meeting, which pledged to create an 86-million-dollar fund to fight the group, called on the international community to provide more support in the fighting against the Takfiri militants.
“We have to eradicate Boko Haram,” said Cameroon’s President Paul Biya.
A multinational force with soldiers from Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon, Niger, Benin, Burundi and the Central African Republic is expected to be formally launched in the coming weeks to fight Boko Haram.
Nigeria-based Boko Haram has widened its attacks into neighboring countries, notably Cameroon and Chad, in a conflict estimated to have claimed a total 13,000 lives since 2009.
The Boko Haram terrorist group has claimed responsibility for numerous deadly shooting attacks and bombings in various parts of Nigeria.
According to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), nearly 650,000 Nigerians have fled their homes due to Boko Haram violence and are displaced inside the African country, while thousands of others have taken refuge in neighboring countries.