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Nigeria shifts anti-Boko Haram headquarters to Maiduguri

Nigeria's military has begun shifting the command center that controls its fight against Boko Haram militants to Maiduguri. Directing the battle from there will put the military closer to the action.

Symbolbild Soldaten Nigeria

Soldiers patrol near the Nigerian border

The move to Maiduguri comes six years into Boko Haram's insurgency in Nigeria, which has been blamed for more than 15,000 deaths and the displacement of 1.5 million people. Boko Haram is trying to establish an Islamic emirate in the country.

New President Muhammadu Buhari announced the headquarters shift in his inaugural speech on May 29. He said the insurgents would not be defeated until military command and control was based at the heart of the uprising.

Nigeria is Africa's most populous nation and top oil exporter.

Its military has been criticized for directing the battle against Boko Haram from the relative security of the capital, Abuja. Since Buhari's speech less than two weeks ago, more than 90 people have been killed in a spate of suspected Boko Haram attacks.

At the start of the year, the militants controlled land in the northeast roughly the size of Belgium. But an offensive by troops from Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon and Niger has pushed the group out of most of the areas it had seized.

On Tuesday, defense chiefs of the four nations involved in the Boko Haram battle are to meet in Abuja for talks on joint operations.

In March, Boko Haram swore allegiance to the "Islamic State" (IS) group fighting in Iraq and Syria.

On Monday, Buhari met with leaders of G7 nations in Bavaria, Germany, pledging to crack down on Boko Haram. Buhari told French President Francois Hollande he required more intelligence concerning the militants' links to the IS.

jr/cmk (Reuters, AFP)

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