Chad, Niger troops retake Nigeria border town from Boko Haram

N’DJAMENA, March 31 (Reuters) – Soldiers from Chad and Niger on Tuesday drove Boko Haram Islamist militants from a northern Nigeria border town they have occupied since late last year, Chad’s government spokesman said.
A joint offensive by Nigeria and its neighbours has succeeded in driving the militants from most of the positions they held earlier this year, an advance that forced Nigeria to delay a February election.
The town of Malam Fatori, which was seized by Boko Haram in November, had been the scene of fighting between coalition forces and the militants, and military sources falsely claimed to have retaken it in January.
Chad’s Communications Minister Hassan Sylla Bakari said this time there was no doubt who controlled the town.
“We took Malam Fatori this evening. It’s an important victory in the fight against Boko Haram,” he told Reuters.
Niger military sources just across the border said air strikes began before an offensive by ground troops. They said the nearby village of Abadam was also liberated during the day and several Boko Haram fighters were killed in clashes there.
Nigerian and regional forces have pushed Boko Haram, which has killed thousands in its push to carve out a caliphate in northeastern Nigeria, from all but three of the 20 local government areas it occupied at the beginning of the year.
Following its initial postponement, Nigeria’s elections were held on Saturday. Despite a handful of isolated attacks, Boko Haram largely failed to deliver on threats to disrupt the polls in the north.
Former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari became the first Nigerian to oust a president through the ballot box. Results announced on Tuesday showed he had defeated Goodluck Jonathan.