Niger’s government says 46 soldiers and 28 civilians were killed over the weekend as troops battled Boko Haram militants for control of an island in Lake Chad.

 Niger said it lost 46 soldiers and 28 civilians in weekend clashes with the Islamist militants.

Officials said Tuesday that 156 militants also were killed in the clashes, which began after Boko Haram attacked an army base on Karamga island on Saturday. Niger’s army said it has since retaken control of the island.

Niger, along with Nigeria, Chad and Cameroon, earlier this year launched a regional offensive to end the Boko Haram insurgency. The Nigeria-based militant Islamist group has claimed more than 10,000 lives and driven more than a million people in northeastern Nigerian from their homes.

On Tuesday, Nigerian troops rescued nearly 300 girls and women from the vast Sambisa Forest, one of the group’s last strongholds.


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