Suspected Boko Haram militants attacked a prison in neighbouring Niger late Sunday ahead of a vote by the country’s parliament on whether to send troops into Nigeria to fight the sect.

Boko Haram Leader Abubakar Shekau Says He Is Alive And Well Boko Haram Leader Abubakar Shekau Says He Is Alive And Well

The attack happened hours before Niger’s parliament was due to vote on joining a regional offensive against the militants.

On Monday, hours after the attack, a bomb exploded in Niger’s bordertown of Diffa, a military and a local source told Reuters news agency.

Meanwhile, troops from Chad are already carrying out operations inside Nigerian territory.

Residents and military sources said heavy gunfire rang out as Niger’s army repelled the attack.

They said this was Boko Haram’s third assault on the border town of Diffa in four days.

Residents said even though many had fled, the authorities ordered locals to stay in their homes and mounted roadblocks around the town by late morning.

A military officer said on the condition of anonymity that with the attack, “It is now evident that Boko Haram has its cells, its sleeping networks in the town and the region of Diffa.”

He said investigation was on going as it was not immediately clear how many people were killed or wounded, or whether any of the prisoners were freed.

A member of the National Guard, which runs prison security, said more than 100 suspected Boko Haram militants were held in Niger, but none of them in Diffa.

On Saturday, the governments of Cameroon, Chad, Niger, Nigeria and Benin agreed to establish an 8,700 strong multi-national force to tackle the insurgency.

(Reuters/NAN)

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