MOUNDOU, Chad (AP) — Suspected Boko Haram militants staged their first attack in Chad on Friday, hitting the third country outside their home base of Nigeria in recent days as the region beefs up its military response to the armed Muslim extremist group.
The assault took place in the village of Ngouboua on the shore of Lake Chad early Friday, and left a community leader, one Chadian soldier and at least two militants dead, Chad's military said.
Boko Haram has threated any nation contributing to the fight against them. The nation of Chad is contributing the most military muscle to the effort, with its soldiers already attacking the insurgents in the countries of Cameroon and Nigeria.
"The assailants have scattered and the army is now pursuing them," Chad army Col. Azem Bermandoa Agouna told The Associated Press by telephone.
Ngouboua is already home to nearly 3,300 refugees who had fled Boko Haram-related violence back home in Nigeria, according to the United Nations. The U.N. refugee agency said Friday it had heard reports of the deadly violence there and was investigating.
"Security is a major concern for all humanitarian agencies, and for the refugees themselves," the agency said Friday at a briefing in Geneva.
Boko Haram's insurgency has forced some 157,000 people to seek refuge in Niger, while 40,000 others have gone to Cameroon and 17,000 are in Chad, the U.N. said. Almost 1 million Nigerians are internally displaced, according to the country's own statistics.
The United Nations special representative for West Africa said Friday that Nigeria's military needs to show "greater resolve" in the widening fight against the extremist group Boko Haram. "I think we all expect more from the Nigerian military," Mohammed Ibn Chambas said at the U.N.
Chad, Niger, Cameroon and Benin all have pledged to send military support though Chadian soldiers are already fighting Boko Haram militants inside Cameroon and Nigeria. The multinational force to fight Boko Haram is expected to be formally launched in coming weeks.
Larson reported from Dakar, Senegal. Associated Press reporter Cara Anna at the United Nations contributed to this report.