Nigeria, neighbours shape multi-national force against Boko Haram

Nigeria, neighbours shape multi-national force against Boko Haram

Tuesday, October 7, 2014 7:47 pm

A regional force put in place to counter the Boko Haram jihadist group in Nigeria will start operations in November, West African leaders decided after a summit in Niger on Tuesday.

The creation of a headquarters for the force will be “accelerated … to make it operational before the end of November”, while military battalions will be deployed in the same timeframe “to our respective borders”, said Niger’s President Mahamadou Issoufou following a day of talks with the leaders of Nigeria, Chad, Benin and the foreign minister of Cameroon.

Nigerian leader Goodluck Jonathan, Niger President Mahamadou Issoufou, Idriss Deby from Chad and Benin’s Thomas Boni Yayi gathered in the Niger capital Niamey to discuss joint military action against the militants.

Nigerian soldiers involved in counter terrorism

Nigerian soldiers involved in counter terrorism

Cameroon, Nigeria’s southeastern neighbour, which has experienced a number of incursions by the group in recent months, was represented by its foreign minister.

In July, Niger, Nigeria, Chad and Cameroon each pledged 700 soldiers to create a multi-national force to fight the Nigeria-based group, which has killed more than 10,000 people since 2009.

“After gaining independence, the survival of our countries has never been so threatened by the menace of terrorism, by the forces of division and by organised crime,” Issoufou said.

The militants are thought to be in control of more than two dozen towns and villages in northeastern Nigeria. The military has struggled to meet a vow to retake all lost ground as part of a offensive launched in May 2013.

In May, African leaders agreed at a summit in Paris called by French President Francois Hollande to cooperate against the group through a slew of measures including joint border patrols and intelligence sharing.

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