N’DJAMENA (Reuters) – Four soldiers in southwest Chad were killed and dozens injured in an explosion on a boat thought to have been caused by an improvised bomb, a local official said on Wednesday, suggesting it was the work of Islamist group Boko Haram.

Chad has suffered attacks on its soil from Nigeria-based Boko Haram since 2015. The jihadist insurgency first erupted in northeast Nigeria in 2009 before spreading into Chad, Niger and northern Cameroon, and killed more than 30,000 people.

The blast occurred on Tuesday night on a boat travelling near Ngouboua, around 25 km (15 miles) from the Nigerian border, said Dimoya Souapebe, a district administrator in the town of Baga Sola.

“The explosive device was placed at the bottom of the boat,” he said. “We are trying to find out if this is a new technique of Boko Haram.”

An army spokesman declined immediate comment.

Chad’s armed forces are among the most respected in the region, a reputation forged during decades of war and rebellions and honed in a 2013 campaign against Islamist militants in the deserts of northern Mali.

Reporting by Madjiasra Nako; Writing by Hereward Holland; Editing by Aaron Ross/Mark Heinrich

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