Chad announced on Saturday that it will half the number of troops deployed in February to the G5 Sahel anti-jihadist force in the "three borders zone" of Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso, citing "a strategic redeployment".
"We have redeployed 600 men to Chad in agreement with the G5 Sahel forces. This is a strategic redeployment to best adapt to the organization of terrorists," Abderaman Koulamallah, a government spokesman told AFP.
A contingent of 1,200 Chadian soldiers had been deployed in this area to fight against jihadist groups, as part of the G5 Sahel multinational force, a group of five Sahelian countries that includes Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Burkina Faso which have been working since 2017 to cooperate in this fight.
The "three borders" area is, along with central Mali, the most affected by jihadist attacks. The deaths, both civilian and military, are counted in the thousands. The jihadist groups involved are affiliated with al-Qaeda and the Islamic State in the Great Sahara (EIGS).
The latest attack on Saturday against a village in this area in Niger left a dozen civilians dead. On Monday, another attack left 37 people dead.
"We still have about 600 soldiers on the ground. It is a decision agreed long ago with the G5 command. We wanted to lighten the apparatus which was not adopted," assured Mr. Koulamallah.
The Chadian troops are based in Tera, a town in southwestern Niger.
"In relation to the situation on the ground, it is necessary to have a mobile force, hence the withdrawal of some of our forces with heavy weapons," added the government spokesman.
"Our political will to confront the jihadists remains intact," he continued.
France, which is heavily involved in the anti-jihadist fight in the region, recently announced the gradual reduction of its military forces in the Sahel in favor of a smaller force of 2,500 to 3,000 men, compared to the previous 5,000.
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