Boko Haram Suicide Bombers Kill 23 in Chadian Capital, Ndjamena  

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 (AFP) –

Twenty-three people were killed on Monday in suicide bombings targeting police in the Chadian capital that the government said was the work of Boko Haram militants.

They were the first such attacks in the capital of the central African nation, which has been on the frontline of the regional fight against the Nigerian Islamist group.

“Boko Haram chose the wrong target. These lawless and faithless terrorists will be flushed out and neutralised wherever they are,” the government said in a statement.

It said 23 people were killed and another 101 wounded in the simultaneous bombings outside the police headquarters and police academy in N’Djamena.

It said four “terrorists” were also killed, but did not give details. Earlier, a police official had told AFP that two suicide bombers carried out the attacks, which came as police cadets were attending a training course at the academy.

– ‘Crisis cell’ –

There was no immediate claim of responsibility.

The government said the situation was quickly brought under control, but the unprecedented assault on the capital prompted the creation of a “crisis cell” and vehicles with darkened windows were banned from N’Djamena.

Large numbers of members of Chad’s security forces were also seen taking up positions on the streets.

In his absence, government ministers held a crisis meeting to discuss the bombings.President Idriss Deby was expected to return home during the day from an African Union summit in Johannesburg, an official said.

The former French colony is part of a four-nation coalition also including Nigeria, Cameroon and Niger that was created to tackle the Boko Haram insurgency after the group stepped up cross-border attacks.

Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau has on several occasions threatened to attack Chad and other countries in the coalition.

Paris condemned Monday’s blasts, with a foreign ministry spokesman saying France “stands alongside Chad and its partners in the fight against terrorism”.

Chad is a close ally of France in its counter-terrorism Operation Barkhane in five countries in the Sahel region and the French army has set up its headquarters for the campaign in N’Djamena.

Last week, Abuja hosted a summit where Nigeria and fellow coalition members plus Benin rubber-stamped an 8,700-strong regional force to replace the current four-nation grouping.

The long-awaited Multi-National Joint Task Force, which had originally been due to become operational in November, has its headquarters in N’Djamena, under a senior Nigerian officer.

Boko Haram has been waging a six-year campaign of violence in northeastern Nigeria that has left at least 15,000 people dead and increasingly spilled across borders

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