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At least 20 dead as suspected jihadists attack Chadian soldiers, military says

At least 20 dead as suspected jihadists attack Chadian soldiers, military says
More than 20 Chadian soldiers have been killed near Lake Chad after suspected jihadists, purportedly belonging to the Boko Haram group, attacked troops stationed in the notoriously volatile region.

Speaking to Reuters, Chadian army spokesman General Azem Bermandoa said that at least 20 soldiers had perished in an attack in the early hours of Thursday.

“We deplore the death of about 20 of our soldiers during a routine patrol in the locality,” Bermandoa said, adding that the attackers had been repelled by troops and that multinational forces had reinforced the area. 

He stated that operations were now underway to further secure the area and track down those responsible for the killings. 

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Speaking with AFP, Bermandoa said the assault had occurred at Tchoukou Telia, an island on Lake Chad located some 190 kilometers (118 miles) to the northwest of the country’s capital, N'Djamena. The vast body of water sits on or near the borders of four countries – Niger, Nigeria, Cameroon, and Chad. 

The region's deputy prefect, Haki Djiddi, told AFP that the death toll was 24. He added that several soldiers were wounded and that others fled into the nearby countryside. Djiddi said the troops attacked had been resting after having returned from a patrol.

Islamist terrorist groups such as Boko Haram and Islamic State West Africa Province have operated from the volatile region, carrying out attacks against civilian and military targets.

In March 2020, around 100 Chadian troops were killed by Islamist militants during a night raid on the lake's Bohoma peninsula. Then-President Idriss Deby Itno led an offensive against the groups before being killed by rebels in northern Chad in April 2021.

Since Boko Haram led a revolt in Nigeria in 2009, approximately 36,000 people have died and some three million have fled their homes, according to UN figures.

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