Boko Haram fighters attacked a Chadian village overnight, killing several people including a local chief, in the first known lethal attack by the Nigerian militant group in Chad, residents and a security source said on Friday.
Dozens of militants arrived in the early hours of the morning on motorised canoes at the fishing village on the shores of Lake Chad, setting houses ablaze and attacking a police station.
“They came on board three pirogues and succeeded in killing about 10 people before being pushed back by the army,” said a resident of the village of Ngouboua, about 20 kilometres east of the Nigerian border.
Other local sources said that the death toll was lower, at between three and five. The local chief, Mai Kolle, was killed in an exchange of gunfire with the army, they said.
An army spokesman declined immediate comment on the attack.
Militants from the Sunni jihadist group, based in northern Nigeria, have stepped up cross-border attacks in recent weeks in their campaign to carve out an Islamist emirate around the Lake Chad area which borders Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon and Niger.
Thousands fled the Niger border town of Diffa this week after a wave of raids and suicide attacks.
Chad’s army, one of the best in the region, has joined a regional offensive against them and says it has killed hundreds of fighters in the past fortnight.
In a bid to contain Boko Haram, which has killed thousands and kidnapped hundreds in its five-year revolt, President Idriss Deby’s government mediated peace talks between the Nigerian government and the group last October.
The talks sought to secure the release of 200 schoolgirls from Nigeria’s Chibok but Boko Haram later said it had married off the schoolgirls to its fighters.
Chad is also the base for a French regional counter-insurgency operation, “Barkhane”, which provides intelligence and logistical support to the Chadian army. A source in Barkhane reached by telephone in N’Djamena said he was not immediately aware of the attack.
Nigeria has postponed for six weeks a presidential election that had been due on Saturday, citing the security threat from Boko Haram.