Boko Haram has killed 92 troops in a seven-hour attack on an island army base, the group’s deadliest assault yet on Chad’s armed forces.
Chadian President Idriss Deby told local television that he traveled to the scene of the attack on Tuesday to pay tribute to the 92 dead troops, saying it was the first time so many troops had been lost.
The attack early on Monday in Boma is part of an expanding militant campaign in the vast, marshy Lake Chad area, where the borders of Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria converge.
Boko Haram launched an insurgency in Nigeria in 2009, before beginning incursions into neighboring nations to the east.
“We lost 92 of our soldiers, non-commissioned officers and officers,” in the attack in Boma, Deby said. “It’s the first time we have lost so many men.”
The attack lasted at least seven hours, and reinforcements sent to help became bogged down and were also targeted, several military sources said.
“The camp is on an island where the ways in were controlled by Boko Haram fighters, they were able to leave as they wanted and without being forced out by the army,” a security official said. “The enemy has hit at our defenses hard in this zone.”
A military official said that army vehicles were destroyed, including armored vehicles, and captured munitions were carried off in speedboats.
The base was taken by surprise by the 5am attack, the official said.
Boko Haram has stepped up its attacks on the islands of the Lake Chad basin, where it takes advantage of the vast terrain to launch assaults.
Boko Haram’s insurgency has killed 36,000 people and displaced nearly 2 million in northeastern Nigeria, UN data showed.
Since 2015, nations in the region have cooperated in a Multinational Joint Force, a regional coalition engaged around Lake Chad with the help of local residents formed into vigilante groups, but the nations are struggling to cope with the insurgency.
In Cameroon, violence increased last year and early this year.
In the nation’s Far North region, 275 people were killed in attacks by militants last year, most of them civilians, according to a report published by Amnesty International in December last year.
In Niger, 174 troops were killed in three attacks in December last year and in January.
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