At least eight soldiers have been killed in western Chad and several others have been injured when their vehicle hit a landmine laid by alleged jihadists, security sources and a local official said Thursday.
The blast occurred on Wednesday at Kalam in the Lake Chad region, which has been battered by attacks from jihadists crossing from neighbouring Nigeria.
The sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, put the toll at eight or nine dead and between 11 and 21 wounded.
A security source in Nigeria also gave the figure of nine dead and said the device had apparently been laid by the Islamic State West Africa Province, a splinter group of Nigeria’s Boko Haram.
One of the fatalities was a gendarmerie officer, the Chadian military source said, adding that gunfire exchanges broke out later Wednesday in Bakaram, the same area, between troops and jihadists.
Boko Haram’s insurgency, launched in northeast Nigeria since 2009, has killed 35,000 people and displaced around two million from their homes.
The conflict has spread to neighboring Niger , Chad and Cameroon, triggering the creation of a four-nation regional anti-jihad alliance, a main component of which is the Chadian army.
In March, Chad’s armed forces suffered their biggest single-day loss, when 98 soldiers were massacred in their base at Bohoma, on the banks of Lake Chad.
In response, President Idriss Deby launched an offensive from March 31 to April 3, declaring at its end that there was “not a single jihadist left” in the Lake Chad region.
In the crackdown N’Djamena reported that a thousand “terrorists” were killed