World Bulletin / News Desk
Boko Haram militants clashed on Friday with soldiers in Niger, who were reinforcing border positions to fend off the insurgency that is spreading from Nigeria into neighbouring states, officials in Nigersaid.
At least five local soldiers were wounded, they said.
Niger and Chadian troops were holding their positions in the town, he said.
A second source told Reuters by telephone, "There is heavy weapons fire from both sides. The fighting is intense and we have at least five injured in our ranks."
French advisers in Niger
The deployment was announced as warplanes pounded Boko Haram positions just over the border in Nigeria, a resident in the Niger town of Bosso said, and hundreds of Chadian troops massed at the frontier to prepare an attack.
Chad has sent about 2,500 troops as part of efforts to take on the militant group, which has intensified its fight to set up a state in Nigeria and has staged cross-border raids. Chadian troops crossed into Nigeria this week from Cameroon, on the southern side of Lake Chad.
"It is there to coordinate the armies on the ground in the fight against Boko Haram," the official said.
The African Union (AU) has authorised a force of 7,500 troops from Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon, Niger and Benin to fight the militants. It is expected to seek a United Nations Security Council mandate, which could also include logistical support from other countries.
Nearly two years after a French-led operation liberated the north of Mali from al Qaeda-linked rebels, France has headquartered a 3,200-strong Sahel counter-insurgency force, Barkhane, in the Chadian capital N'Djamena, some 50 km (30 miles) from the Nigerian border.
It has also been operating reconnaissance missions near the Nigerian border and sharing intelligence with countries in the region, although it has ruled out direct military involvement for now.
Speaking at a news conference on Thursday, President Francois Hollande said Paris was also providing logistical and operation support, including by delivering fuel and munitions to countries fighting Boko Haram.
"This is a message to the international community and the biggest countries. Do your work! Stop giving lessons and take action!" Hollande said.
"In Africa, we have to help the Africans a lot more to fight terrorism, because if we do not then other countries will be destabilised," he warned.