Thousands march against Boko Haram

NIAMEY — Niger’s president Mamahadou Issoufou yesterday told thousands of people protesting at deadly raids by Boko Haram that “Niger will be the tomb” of the Islamists from neighbouring Nigeria. “Nobody attacks Niger without punishment and Boko Haram learned that to its cost last February 6,” Issoufou told a crowd after a rally in the capital Niamey.

“That day, our defence and security forces crushed Boko Haram.”

The radical sect struck across the border into Niger for the first time on February 6, launching attacks on Bosso and near provincial capital Diffa, both south-eastern towns near Nigeria.

A first official toll given by defence minister Mahamadou Karidjo said 109 jihadists had been killed, with four soldiers and a civilian. Niger’s army later said that more than 200 Boko Haram fighters were slain, while seven soldiers perished.

Several humanitarian sources told AFP that the Islamists had sustained heavy losses in the first raid on Diffa, which came three days before Niger’s parliament authorised troops to enter Nigeria to take part in a regional struggle.

Earlier, Prime Minister Brigi Rafini led the marchers under a heavy police presence, with snipers posted on roofs of buildings along the protest route, including parliament. — AFP.

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