West Africa finetunes force to fight Boko Haram
08 October 2014, 08:08
Niamey - The leaders of Nigeria and its neighbouring countries met in Niger on Tuesday for talks on finalising a multi-national force to fight Boko Haram Islamist militants.
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.
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.
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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 co-operate against the group through a slew of measures including joint border patrols and intelligence sharing.