|Boko Haram kills 92 Chadian soldiers in seven-hour attack|
The soldiers were ambushed on Monday in the island village of Boma in the swampy Lake Chad zone in the west of the country, where the armies of Chad, Nigeria and Niger have been fighting the Islamist for years.
"I have taken part in many operations ... but never in our history have we lost so many men at one time," Deby said during a visit to the site on Tuesday.
Deby gave an initial of 92 and 47 . Three military sources told on Wednesday that the number of dead had risen to 98.
|Sahel instability spreading to coastal West Africa: Burkina Faso|
|[AlAhram] Islamist are increasing their activity in West Africa despite the establishment of a regional force to combat them in the , and they are now threatening coastal countries, 's foreign minister said on Saturday.|
Speaking at the Munich Security Conference, Minister Alpha Barry gave a bleak outlook of the situation more than six years after French troops intervened in Mali to stop Islamist advancing on the capital Bamako.
The Sahel region has since suffered violence from groups linked to al Qaeda and , trafficking and the emergence of s in one of the world's poorest regions.
The northern region of Burkina Faso, bordering Mali and Niger, has over the last 12 months been especially hard hit, leaving the government struggling to assert its authority since President Blaise Compaore was ousted in 2014 in a popular uprising.
"This threat is gaining ground. Yesterday four customs' officers were killed in south Burkina Faso on the border with Togo," Barry said.
A Spanish priest was also killed in the incident, which Burkinabe authorities blamed on Islamist s.
"We've also seen attacks on the border with Benin, Ivory Coast and Ghana. It's no longer just the Sahel, it's coastal West Africa and the risk of spreading regionally."
, the former colonial power in the region, has kept about 4,500 troops in the region and pushed for the creation of a force made up of soldiers from Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso, Chad and Mauritania to combat jihadists.
But the so-called G5 force has been hobbled by delays in disbursing money and poor coordination between the five countries while insecurity has escalated.
Barry said just a fraction of more than 415 million euros ($468 million) promised for the force a year ago had been disbursed, meaning that it had only been able to carry out sporadic operations.
While there have been some operational successes with the help of French troops especially in central Mali, instability has also spread to Niger and Chad, which considers as its most crucial ally in tackling Islamist s.
This month sent warplanes to support Chadian President Idriss Deby against a group of rebels, saying it was preventing a coup d'etat.
"The glass is half full," French Defence Minister Florence Parly said. "It's complex and we have a lot to do, but I'm convinced we are on the right track."
|Chadian army says 250 rebels captured after rebel convoy targeted|
|[PULSE.NG] The Chadian military on Saturday said it had captured more than 250 rebels, including some top leaders, after an operation against an convoy of trying to cross into the country from Libya in late January that also involved French s.|
In a statement issued by army staff the Chadian military said the sweep would continue in the region of Ennedi, in the northwest border with Libya and Sudan, near where the armed column of rebel vehicles was brought to a halt in early February.
The statement said some 250 "terrorists, including four main leaders" were detained, while more than 40 vehicles were destroyed and hundreds of weapons were seized.
"Several compromising documents" were also seized," the statement added without giving further details.
President Idriss Deby on Thursday said the column of rebels had been "destroyed" in a series of strikes carried out by French warplanes.
Acting in conjunction with Chad's government, French Mirage 2000 jets targeted the convoy on Sunday, Tuesday and Wednesday, destroying about 20 of roughly 50 pickup trucks the rebels started out with, the French armed forces said in a statement.
Chadian forces had already tried to stop the column with airstrikes at the beginning of February, before asking for warning passes and then strikes.
An armed forces said the convoy had crossed 400 kilometres (250 miles) of Chadian territory before being halted between Tibesti and Ennedi in the northwest.
An anti-Deby rebel group, the Union of Resistance Forces (UFR), claimed to have crossed into northern Chad with "three columns" of vehicles.
On Friday, the group said it had suffered "damage" after the French strikes, according to one of its members Mahamat Doki Warou.
Another source from the group told AFP that ten fighters had been killed.
The UFR was created in January 2009 from an alliance of eight rebel groups.
In February 2008, a tripartite group, moving in from the east, reached the gates of the presidential palace in N'Djamena before being repulsed by Deby's forces.
Chad, a vast and mostly desert country with more than 200 ethnic groups, has suffered repeated coups and crises since it gained independence from in 1960.
Under Deby, a former head of the armed forces, the country has taken a leading role in the fight against jihadism in the It is part of a West African coalition fighting the insurgency, and a member of the French-backed G5 Sahel anti-terror alliance, which also includes , Mali, Mauritania, and Niger.
|Peacekeepers killed in attack on UN northern Mali base|
|[France24] Gunmen killed at least ten Chadian UN peacekeepers and injured 25 others in an attack Sunday on one of their bases in northern Mali, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said.|
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres confirmed an information previously announced by a source close to the MINUSMA force. Guterres strongly condemned what he described as a "complex attack" on the UN peace mission's camp in Aguelhok, 200 kilometres (125 miles) north of Kidal and towards the border with Algeria.
"Ten peacekeepers from Chad were killed and at least 25 injured," said a statement from UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric.
"MINUSMA forces responded robustly and a number of assailants were killed," Dujarric said, without specifying the toll.
An al Qaeda-linked Islamist group for the attack.
The Nusrat al-Islam wal een group said the attack was a response to Chadian President Idriss Deby's revival of diplomatic relations with Israel in a statement posted on Telegram.
Mahamat Saleh Annadif, the UN envoy for Mali, condemned what he called a "vile and criminal" attack."Peacekeepers of the MINUSMA force at Aguelhok fought off a sophisticated attack by assailants who arrived on several armed vehicles," he said in a statement.
The attack "illustrates the determination of the terrorists to sow chaos."
|Cameroon: Chad Deploys Military to Southern Cameroons as Crisis Persists|
|[All Africa] According to multiple sources Chadian soldiers, dispatched by Chadian President Idriss Deby at the request of ian President Paul Biya, have been fighting for several weeks alongside Cameroonian's armed forces against the English-speaking separatists.|
"It is since the last summit of the Economic Community of Central African States on October 30, 2017, that the two heads of state - in power for three decades - have had to help each other," a high-ranking official of the Chadian army told Africa Info on condition of anonymity."
The information we are getting is that the Cameroonian military is finding it difficult to fight the separatists. The military were not prepared for this kind of combat," he said, adding that even the Chadian military is "feeling discouraged". Despite several attempts, the communication officer of the Cameroonian ministry of defense did not respond to our inquiries. on the field, the situation is far from calming down despite the fact that the independence leaders were from Nigeria and sent to Cameroon under conditions the UN says violates the rules of of International law.
According to witnesses, fighting has raged on for several days on the border between Nigeria and Cameroon.
Several attempts by the Chadian mercenaries and the Cameroon armed forces have been unsuccessful, a regular source told Africa Info.
|8 Chad soldiers killed in clashes with Boko Haram|
|[AlAhram] Eight Chadian soldiers were killed in fierce fighting with at the weekend on islands on Lake Chad, the army said Monday.|
"Our forces attacked Boko Haram elements on five islands near Nigeria on June 24 and 25," said Chad army Colonel Azem, indicating eight soldiers had died and another 18 were .
He also claimed troops had killed 162 jihadists from the Nigeria-based group, and destroyed six vehicles along with many of the s often favoured by Boko Haram fighters in their raids.
Chad is part of a five-nation regional force -- also comprising Nigeria, , Niger and Benin -- fighting Boko Haram, which is blamed for killing at least 20,000 people and leaving another 2.6 million homeless.
Chad's President Idriss Deby threatened on Sunday to pull the country's troops out of peacekeeping operations in Africa because of a lack of foreign financial support.
Chad has contributed the third-largest contingent to MINUSMA, the UN peacekeeping mission deployed in Mali in response to Islamist insurgency, with 1,390 soldiers.
Deby indicated that N'Djamena lacks help to pay for its 2,000 men in the Joint Task Force battling Boko Haram, which emerged in northeastern Nigeria in 2009 and has in recent years attacked across borders.
"We have not at all been supported on the financial, economic side," he said in an interview with several French media.
"If nothing is done, if that goes on, Chad will be obliged to withdraw," he added. "We can't keep being everywhere -- in Niger, in Cameroon and in Mali. All that is excessively expensive."
Chad's army is one of the most battle-hardened in the region, but the country faces a major economic crisis made worse by low oil prices, its main source of revenue.
There have been frequent on the many small islands of Lake Chad since the Boko Haram conflict began in 2009. The lake borders four countries on the edge of the Sahara: Chad, Cameroon, Niger and Nigeria.
|Sahel leaders agree new joint counter-terror force|
|[AlAhram] Troops from five Sahel countries plan to set up a new counter-terror force in the region, where alarm over the jihadist threat is mounting, leaders said Monday in Mali's capital.|
The announcement came as leaders of the Sahel G5 states -- , Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger -- that describe themselves as "in the frontline against terrorism", met to discuss the desert zone's perilous security situation.
The gathering took place barely three weeks after the worst attack in the region for years, the January 18 in the northern Malian city of Gao that left almost 80 people dead.
"To better combat terrorism in G5 countries, we have decided to implement the creation of a G5 force," President Mahamadou Issoufou of Niger told a .
There was no word on the number of troops the force would have or where they would be stationed.
Issoufou said a resolution and Security Council approval would be requested before the force could be formed.
Chad's President Idriss Deby said European nations would be asked for aid for the transnational project.
"What we want is for European countries to give us the means. We are going to be on the front line ourselves in the fight against terrorism," said Deby, speaking as current G5 chief.
Some 3,500 French troops are already stationed in the as part of counter-terror efforts against an increasingly nimble array of Islamist groups, some of which are aligned with al-Qaeda.
Hundreds of Europeans too are serving with the 12,000-strong UN peacekeeper force stationed in Mali, which has become the UN's most dangerous operation in two decades with 70 lives lost.
The new G5 deployment would "save the lives of (European) soldiers", Deby added.
The Chadian leader said earlier in the day that the Sahel region risked becoming "a space for terrorists" unless immediate, co-ordinated action was taken.
"The multiplication of terrorist attacks in the Sahel" shows the threat "has new proportions", Deby warned.
Chad and Niger are currently battling Nigerian Islamist group , while jihadists in late 2015 and early 2016 struck tourist spots in Mali, Burkina Faso and Ivory Coast.
Experts say attacks mounted by jihadists and s are on the rise and are increasingly targeting civilians in the largely desert zone.
January's deadly attack in the northern Malian city of Gao was claimed by Algerian jihadist and al-Qaeda ally Mokhtar Belmokhtar.
Northern Mali was described as a "known hideout for terrorists" in an internal G5 document seen by AFP.
"It is also a launchpad for attacks against other countries," the document said.
"We need to co-ordinate our efforts to rise up to the challenge," said Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, whose nation is struggling with jihadists who use its vast northern stretches as a launchpad for attacks.
Mauritania was once plagued by Islamist attacks within its borders, but has made significant security gains.
|Chad closes Libya border in bid to stop fleeing IS terrorists arriving|
|[Libya Herald] Chadian prime minister Albert Pahimi Padacket has ordered the closure of his country’s border with Libya to prevent crossing over. The entire border zone has been declared a military area.|
IS fighters, he said, were heading south in Libya and converging towards Chad.
There have been systematic reports in Libya of the moving south following their defeat in Sirte.
This latest move would, Padacket explained, "would put a stop to all attempts by groups to infiltrate the national territory".
It is not clear how realistic is the assertion. The Chadian-Libyan border is extremely porous. Efforts to prevent people smuggling across it have proved extremely ineffective.
Two weeks ago, supposedly nervous about the reports of growing numbers of in southern Libya, Chad’s interior minister banned Chadians from heading there.
There are, however, allegations that the real reason for the border’s closure is not so much concern about IS moving into Chad as of Chadian rebels based in Libya doing so.
A group opposed to President Idriss Deby, called the Front pour l’Alternance et la Concorde au Tchad, and which has been operating out of southern Libya is said to be growing in strength and recruiting young Chadians to its ranks.
|France sees 'long war' against Islamist militants in Africa|
|[AlAhram] French Prime Minister Bernard Cazeneuve on Thursday warned troops stationed in Africa's that they should "prepare for a long war" against Islamist s. He also promised Chad, where French troops have been stationed since 2014 under Operation Barkhane, his nation's financial support.|
"Our country must continue to make clear and ambitious budgetary decisions in support of our armies," Cazeneuve said on his first overseas visit as prime minister.
The Barkhane forces' mission is to target Islamist groups that are active in the Sahel region south of the Sahara Desert. The operation was launched after French military interventions in Mali and Chad.
"We must prepare for a long war in an environment that has undergone dramatic shifts," Cazeneuve said.
The French military is currently battling Islamist in two regions -- in the Middle East against the (IS) s, and in the Sahel where it has deployed 4,000 soldiers as part of the Barkhane force.
Operation Barkhane covers five nations: Mauritania, Mali, Niger, and Chad.
Cazeneuve hailed troops fighting on fronts "thousands of kilometres away from their homes".
"You risk your lives to save others'," he said.
Four French troops have been killed in Mali this year. Barkhane forces are working alongside Malian troops in the search for Sophie Petronin, a French aid worker who was kidnapped last weekend.
The prime minister also pledged 's help for poverty-stricken Chad.
" will always help Chad surmount its difficulties," said Cazeneuve after a meeting with President Idriss Deby.
Like its neighbour, oil giant Nigeria, Chad has been undergoing a severe financial crisis as a result of a several months-long slump in the price of crude.
|Regional armies struggle in last push against Boko Haram|
|"You'll all be able to go home soon. Boko Haram is nearly finished," Niger's Interior Minister Mohamed Bazoum told a crowd of refugees seated quietly on dusty, sun-baked flats.|
His words of optimism were belied by the dozens-strong security detail required to protect him as he toured his country's southern border.
Seven years into an insurgency that spread from Nigeria into Chad, Niger and Cameroon, regional armies are now in a final push to defeat Boko Haram, a once obscure Islamist sect turned deadly militant group.
But lingering divisions in the countries' multi-national joint task force (MNJTF) are complicating that mission.
"If there's no strategy to attack Boko Haram together, we won't ever finish with them," Mahamadou Liman Ali, an opposition lawmaker from southern Niger, told Reuters in Niamey.
At a time when the world's wealthy nations are focused on the fight against Islamic State and al Qaeda, financial support for the MNJTF's efforts against Boko Haram, which has pledged its allegiance to IS, have fallen short of targets.
That has left the task force's members - including Chad, the region's capable but increasingly reluctant military powerhouse - to shoulder the bulk of the costs of fighting the group.
Boko Haram's victims, which include 2.4 million displaced, live in hope that this month-old offensive - dubbed Operation Gama Aiki, or "finish the job" in the local Hausa language - might succeed where others have failed.
Some have doubts. From where he stays in southern Niger, refugee Usman Kanimbu sees smoke rising from the coalition's air strikes on insurgent positions in Nigeria, the home he fled.
"We've fled eight times. Each time we arrive somewhere Boko Haram attacks again. We would keep running, but we can't afford to anymore," he said. "I'm not sure this will ever end."
As the sun sets over the Nigerian border, a featureless expanse of sand and scrub trees, soldiers from Niger peered over an earthen bern at territory held by Boko Haram.
The skies above the borderlands now rumble daily with the sound of fighter jets. Chadian troops have ventured onto Lake Chad, a Boko Haram stronghold. Regional military officers say they are taking back ground from the insurgents.
The task force may indeed be making headway against Boko Haram, which has fewer footholds than it once did. Its leader, Abubakar Shekau, may even be dead.
But the MNJTF is a far cry from what it was conceived to be, a dedicated 8,700-strong force blending soldiers from Nigeria, Niger, Cameroon, Chad and Benin.
Instead, the nations rely on their own armies to deal with Boko Haram threats. Troops from Chad, which has the region's strongest military, reinforce when needed then head back home.
"Each force is based in its country of origin. There's no integrated force with battalions moving in perfect coordination," said Vincent Foucher, West Africa researcher at International Crisis Group (ICG).
The need for operational integration in the fight against an enemy that knows no borders was exposed during a similar regional offensive early last year.
After troops from Chad and Niger drove Boko Haram from a string of towns in Nigeria's far north, they waited in vain for the Nigerian army to arrive and hold them.
"We were there for three or four months, but the Nigerian troops that were meant to take over from us were not ready," Niger's Brigadier General Abdou Sidikou Issa told Reuters.
Niger and Chad withdrew, according to a source with knowledge of the operation, because they feared becoming an occupying force. Issa said the troops were overstretched logistically, however. Either way, the vacuum they left allowed Boko Haram to reclaim positions and carry on cross-border raids.
"That's what's created problems for us again today," Issa said.
The MNJTF was meant to prevent a repeat of those kinds of incidents. The African Union endorsed the force in January 2015 and a headquarters was established in Chad's capital N'Djamena to coordinate forces against the ever-evolving threat of Boko Haram.
The AU has struggled to rally contributors to foot the bill for the MNJTF's $700 million budget, however. Donors, led by Nigeria and France, pledged $250 million in February, just over a third of what was needed, but dispersal has been slow. The United States has also aided with intelligence and training.
A senior MNJTF officer, who asked not to be named as he was not authorised to speak, told Reuters the money received so far was so little that it only had covered the cost of 11 vehicles and some radio equipment, with the individual armies bearing the rest of the costs.
"There are all these declarations of intentions, but, in concrete terms, nothing has been done yet," he said.
A spokesman for the MNJTF did not respond to a request for comment.
A Boko Haram attack last month on Bosso, in southeastern Niger, which killed 32 soldiers and a number of civilians, was the kind of incident the MNJTF was created for.
But rather than the multinational force kicking into action as it is supposed to, Niger's President Mahamadou Issoufou had to fly to N'Djamena to lobby neighbour Chad for help.
Having played a lead role along with France in a 2013 intervention in Mali to drive back jihadist groups there, Chad's President Idriss Deby has become indispensable in the fight against West African Islamists.
But with low oil prices now causing Deby economic headaches at home and little direct financial support coming from his allies, analysts say he has grown resentful.
Two weeks after President Issoufou's visit, Reuters visited a half-finished hotel complex in the southern Niger city of Diffa that had been fully booked out by the Chadian army. The Chadians were nowhere to be seen. Dozens of bungalows sat empty.
It would take more than a month for them to arrive.
Excluding its oil sector, after 7 percent growth in 2014, Chad's economy contracted by 1.5 percent last year, according to the International Monetary Fund. Oil output rose to record levels, but low prices meant revenues dipped.
"This is costing (Deby) a lot of money. There's a big budget crisis ... He's definitely hurting," said Nathaniel Powell, a researcher with the Swiss-based Fondation Pierre du Bois.
A Chadian government official did not respond to a request for comment.
Niger's tiny army - 15,000 troops to cover 1.2 million square kilometres (463,300 square miles) of territory - is overstretched by Boko Haram, but also by the overflow of unrelated Islamist violence from Mali to its west.
Cameroon has meanwhile deployed thousands of troops, including special forces, to its north to secure its own territory against a suicide bombing campaign.
And while Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari has shown more willingness than his predecessor to take on the insurgents, decades of graft have hollowed out his military and it now faces resurgent militancy in the oil-producing Niger Delta.
The senior MNJTF officer said the regional neighbours would continue to improve the force. In the meantime, they had no other choice than to act.
"If we wait, Boko Haram isn't going to wait for us, are they?" he said.
|Chad sends 2,000 troops to Niger for counterattack on Boko Haram|
|[DAILYMAIL.CO.UK] Chad has sent 2,000 troops to Niger to prepare a counterattack against after the group seized a Nigerien town, two senior military sources said on Wednesday.|
The sources, one at Chadian military command in N'Djamena and another in the Lake Chad region where Boko Haram operates, told the troops arrived on Tuesday and were advancing on Bosso, a town near Lake Chad that has been the scene of in recent days.
Boko Haram killed 30 soldiers and forced 50,000 people to flee when it took Bosso on Friday, its deadliest raid in Niger in over a year.
"About 2,000 soldiers with tanks went into Niger yesterday. They should link up with the Nigerien forces in Diffa and advance on Bosso," said one of the Chadian military sources.
A security source in Niger confirmed that about 2,000 troops were heading to Bosso on Wednesday.
Clashes have continued in Bosso in recent days. Niger troops briefly regained control of Bosso on Saturday, according to the defense ministry, but the retook it on Sunday, Bosso Mayor Mamadou Bako said.
Boko Haram has been trying to establish an Islamic state adhering to strict Sharia, Islamic law, in since 2009. About 2.1 million people have been displaced and thousands killed during the insurgency.
Chad's intervention comes after Niger President Mahamadou Issoufou flew to Chad for talks with President Idriss Deby on Tuesday.
|Boko Haram suicide attacks in Niger kill at least four|
|[AlAhram] Suspected Islamist from Nigeria's group killed at least four people on Sunday in s across the border in Niger, security sources said.|
The dead included three civilians and a soldier and four attackers also died during the attacks in Niger's southeastern region of Diffa, the sources said.
Niger, and Chad have all suffered a spillover of violence from Boko Haram's northern Nigerian strongholds.
Niger has at least 1,100 suspected Boko Haram this year and has placed its Diffa region under a state of emergency.
Diffa, which borders Nigeria, has suffered at least 57 attacks since February, statistics published by the on Friday showed.
At least 150,000 refugees seeking protection from Boko Haram attacks in Nigeria live in Niger's Diffa region.
An 8,700-strong multinational force comprising troops from Niger, Nigeria, Benin, Cameroon and Chad will begin operations against the at the end of this month when the rainy season is expected to stop, Chad's President Idriss Deby said recently.
The force is due to receive U.S. support, including training, worth $45 million.