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Nigeria gun battle was joint assault with Chad, Niger -officials

Source: Reuters - Tue, 23 Apr 2013 13:45 GMT
Author: Reuters
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ABUJA, April 23 (Reuters) - A gun battle in a Nigerian border town that looked likely to have killed dozens last week involved forces from neighbouring Chad and Niger, who were surprised by the firepower they faced there, officials said on Tuesday.

A joint force of more than 100 was assembled after intelligence that Islamist militants Boko Haram had moved into Baga, a fishing town in northeast Nigeria on the shores of Lake Chad, two Nigerian military sources said.

Nigerien and Chadian officials confirmed their involvement.

The militants, armed with machineguns, rocket-propelled grenades and homemade bombs, put up fierce resistance from positions around local people and their homes, the sources said.

Several Boko Haram fighters were killed and weapons were seized, but civilians also died in a fight the sources said was neither a significant strategic victory nor an escalation.

There was still no confirmation of the death toll from Friday's fighting, but a Nigerian miliary source said dozens may have died, many of them civilians. The Nigerian Red Cross said they checking reports from locals that 187 people had been killed, but had not yet gained security clearance to go into Baga.

Nigerian defence spokesman Brigadier General Chris Olukolade told Reuters by telephone that "the force that hit them was a multinational force" involving Chadian and Nigerien troops who has been cooperating on the border for about a decade. (Reporting by Tim Cocks in Abuja; Additional reporting by Abdoulaye Massalaki in Niamey and Madjiasra Nako in Ndjamena; Editing by Louise Ireland)

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