NIAMEY: Towns in Niger are living in fear following the advance of extremist group Boko Haram into neighbouring northeast Nigeria, the mayor of a border town told Agence France-Presse on Monday (Tuesday in Manila).
Boko Haram overran two Nigerian towns near Niger in October after fierce fighting with the Nigerian army.
On Saturday, in one of its boldest moves yet, the Islamists seized control of a Nigerian military base in a series of blistering raids near Lake Chad, sending soldiers and civilians fleeing.
“Nearly all the villages and all the big towns in Nigeria near to Niger are now under Boko Haram’s control. We are living in fear of attacks from the Islamists,” said Hankaraou Biri Kassoum, the mayor of one border town in Niger, Diffa.
In October, after it overran Malam Fatori, a town in Nigeria’s northeastern Borno state just two kilometers (1.3 miles) from the Niger border, Boko Haram militants “fired towards Niger and our army responded with two bouts of cannon fire,” the mayor said.
“We can see the jihadists’ black flag flying on the other side of the border,” Kassoum said.
“One day, these people are going to want to attack us so they can gauge the strength of our army,” he added.
Boko Haram is recruiting young men from Niger to fight and when they return to their villages to buy motorbikes with their wages or subsidise their families “it tempts others to join,” Kassoum complained.
Boko Haram aims to establish an Islamic state in northern Nigeria.