Nigeria`s fight against Boko Haram to be bolstered

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Nigeria‚Äôs fight against Boko Haram to be bolstered NewsLineToday    Gallery Enlarge Image

Manju Shukla
Date  01/02/2015
African leaders have agreed to send 7,500 troops to fight the Boko Haram insurgency in north-east Nigeria as the international community, including long-time foes the US and Iran, rallied against the militants.

The African Union announced the move on Saturday on the closing day of a summit of AU leaders in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.

The UN secretary-general, Ban Ki-moon, earlier said he supported the deployment of AU troops to fight Boko Haram, which is increasing its attacks in the runup to the general election on 14 February. Thousands of people have been killed in the five-year-long insurgency.

Iran also said on Saturday it has begun consultations with west African countries affected by Boko Haram to provide help.

Its deputy foreign minister, Hossein Amir Abdollahian said he was confident the Islamist insurgent group could be defeated with collective action.

“We will share our experiences in combating terrorism to defeat Boko Haram. We will achieve that without a doubt,” the official said on the sidelines of the AU summit. On Friday the US promised more technical support, training and equipment.

African nations have opened up a new international front in the war on terror. Chad said on Saturday its forces had killed 120 Boko Haram fighters in the north of neighbouring Cameroon in a battle that began when the insurgents attacked its troops.

Boko Haram has recently launched cross-border attacks from Nigeria into Cameroon and Chad as part of its drive for an Islamist state in the north-east of Nigeria. Chad and Cameroon have stepped up troop deployments to fight the militants.

On Thursday, Chad sent a warplane and troops that drove the extremists out of a north-eastern Nigeria border town, the first such act by foreign troops on Nigerian soil.

Chad’s victory, and the need for foreign troops, is an embarrassment to Nigeria’s once-mighty military. The foreign intervention comes just two weeks before hotly contested national elections in which the president, Goodluck Jonathan, is seeking a second term.

Boko Haram provoked international outrage in April when it kidnapped 276 schoolgirls at a boarding school in the remote town of Chibok. Dozens escaped on their own, but 219 remain missing.

Suicide bombings in recent months by young girls has raised fears that Boko Haram is using the kidnap victims in its conflict, which has displaced more than 1 million people and killed about 10,000 in the last year, according to the Council on Foreign Relation

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