The threat of Islamist group Boko Haram has decreased but has not been eradicated. This was the assessment of General Patrick Brethous, the commander of the French anti-insurgent military operation in the Sahel region, on Wednesday.
“Their threat has not been eradicated, but has decreased and Boko Haram has the capacity to cause harm,” the Operation Barkhane commander said on Nigerien television after a meeting with Niger’s President Mahamadou Issoufou.
General Brethous was in Niger to assess Operation Barkhane activities, an operation based in Chad, Mali and on the border of Niger and Libya.
Boko Haram cannot strike N'Djamena and the other big cities. They are limited to preying on people in the Lake Chad area in the north of Kommadougou.
“Boko Haram cannot strike N’Djamena and the other big cities. They are limited to preying on people in the Lake Chad area in the north of Kommadougou, (a natural river border between Niger and Nigeria),” he assured.
“However, Boko Haram is still present in Borno State (in the northeast of Nigeria) particularly in one of its two shelters located in the Lake Chad region,” he warned.
General Brethous said the operations of the Joint Multinational Force around Lake Chad and the one conducted by Nigeria in the southeast of Borno State are ongoing and another offensive operation is being set up in the area.
“We have to continue the operations in a coordinated manner within the joint multinational force with the support of some Western countries like the United States, France or the United Kingdom,” he argued.
During a visit to France in mid-June, President Issoufou requested for the Operation Barkhane to be expanded to combat Boko Haram.
Operation Barkhane which started in August 2014 is ongoing in the Sahel region. It consists of a 3,000-strong French force headquartered in N’Djamena, the capital of Chad.