Islamic extremists from Nigeria attacked a town inside the neighboring country of Niger on Friday, marking the second foreign country attacked by Boko Haram this week.
The attackers were later repelled, but the incursion comes as Niger and several other African countries are planning to send troops to battle the Islamic extremists, seen as a growing threat not only to Nigeria but to the region of West and Central Africa. Chad and Cameroon in recent days have already began using its military forces to attack Boko Haram.
It was not immediately clear if there were casualties in the early morning attack on Bosso, the Niger town bordering northeastern Nigeria. Soldiers from Niger and Chad rushed to the scene and engaged in an hour-long firefight in which Boko Haram retreated; leaving the streets deserted, said Abba Hassan, a pharmacist in Bosso.
“Niger and Chadian planes are conducting surveillance at the moment in town and troops on the ground are combing through the streets,” Hassan told The Associated Press by phone.
French radio station RFI also carried news of the attack, citing local residents.
Niger’s government spokesman and foreign affairs minister could not immediately be reached for comment. Niger’s president was meeting with his Cabinet.
The area of Niger where the attack took place is where refugees already have arrived by the thousands seeking safety from Boko Haram violence in Nigeria.
This story is compiled with information from The Associated Press.