Chad withdraws troops from fight against Boko Haram in Niger

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Chadian soldiers sit with guns on a vehicle as they drive in Bangui April 4, 2014. REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic
Chadian soldiers sit with guns on a vehicle as they drive in Bangui April 4, 2014. REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic

Chad has withdrawn hundreds of troops from neighboring Niger, where they were helping local forces fight Boko Haram Islamist militants, humanitarian sources and officials said.

The move comes a month after the Chad complained about and unexpected U.S. travel ban imposed on its national. After the ban the country warned at the time the order could affect its security commitments, which involve the U.S. backed fight against Boko Haram, Reuters reports

According to the report, the pull-out over the past two weeks could weaken a region-wide struggle against the militants who have killed tens of thousands of people, forced many more to flee and triggered a humanitarian crisis.

 There was no immediate explanation or comment from defense officials in Chad.

Residents said the withdrawal had already had an impact on Niger’s Diffa region, which has seen a string of attacks by Boko Haram militants crossing over from their base in neighboring Nigeria, the report said.

According to the report, Chad had 2,000 troops in Niger to help counter Boko Haram, though this has fallen since an attack in Bosso in 2016.

Boko Haram has attacked Chad, Niger and Cameroon from its base in northeast Nigeria. Its eight-year bid to carve out an Islamist caliphate has driven millions from their homes – more than 200,000 of them are now based in Diffa, with little prospect of returning home.

Thousands of them are camped alongside an unfinished highway in the middle of a barren savannah with few resources.

Boko Haram’s presence  on the shores of Lake Chad has aggravated intercommunal tensions, which have degenerated into deadly conflicts since May 2016, the International Crisis Group reports.

Chad’s soldiers also occupy front-line positions in a peacekeeping force in northern Mali. Falling oil revenues after the price crash in 2014 has also sapped Chad’s appetite for expensive regional security commitments, analysts say, this according to the report.

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