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Nigerian ground and air forces repel Boko Haram attack in Borno state

Nigeria's new chief of air staff pledged to commit more firepower against Boko Haram after President Muhammadu Buhari replaced several top military leaders last month.

By Fred Lambert
Nigerian ground and air forces repel Boko Haram attack in Borno state
An Alpha Jet lands in Gloucestershire, England, on July 17, 2006. The Nigerian Air Force said on Sunday, August 2, 2015, that it used Alpha Jets to run close air support for ground forces battling a Boko Haram assault in the village of Bita, in Nigeria's northeastern Borno State. Photo by Adrian Pingstone/CC/Wikimedia Commons

BITA, Nigeria, Aug. 2 (UPI) -- Nigerian ground forces, with the help of airstrikes by the Nigerian Air Force, were able to repel a Boko Haram assault on a village in Borno state, according to officials.

The NAF used Alpha Jets to run close air support for Nigerian ground troops defending the village of Bita, in Nigeria's volatile northeast.

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"Consequently, a large number of the insurgents were killed and several others injured," Air Commodore Dele Alonge, director of public relations and information for the NAF, said in a statement Sunday.

The incident comes after President Muhammadu Buhari replaced each of Nigeria's military chiefs last month.

Former Chief of Air Staff Adesola Amosu was among those sacked, with Air Vice Marshal Sadeeq Abubakar taking over his position and pledging an increase in air attacks against Boko Haram.

Since 2009, Islamic terrorist group Boko Haram has waged a campaign of attacks against civilians and military personnel in Nigeria. The group seeks an Islamic state in the country.

Earlier this year the African Union endorsed a a 7,500-strong multinational force from Benin, Chad, Niger, Cameroon and Nigeria to combat Boko Haram. The coalition, with a new total strength of 8,700, has been delayed for several months but is set to start operations at any time, its commander, Maj. Gen. Iliya Abbah, told Vanguard on Saturday.

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Meanwhile, Benin's president, Thomas Boni Yayi, pledged 800 troops to the multinational force. The commitment came during a Saturday visit by President Buhari, who had the previous Wednesday made his first official trip to Cameroon, following visits to Niger and Chad last month, to discuss strengthening security ties against Boko Haram.

Cameroon on Tuesday said it was deploying an additional 2,000 troops to its northern border with Nigeria to reinforce units operating there after more than 30 people were killed in suicide bombings in the town of Maroua, where the Cameroonian army bases its operations against Boko Haram.

President Buhari pledged more pressure against Boko Haram when he was elected in March.

During his trip to Benin on Saturday, Buhari asserted that Boko Haram would be defeated by the end of the year, but since the president took office in May, more than 800 people have been killed in a wave of attacks by the group.

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