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Nigeria and Cameroon team up to fight Boko Haram

July 30, 2015

The governments of Nigeria and Cameroon have announced a multinational task force to combat Boko Haram. The terrorist group has killed 60 people in Cameroon and 10 people in Chad this month alone.

Cameroon President Paul Biya and Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari Nigeria (Reinnier KAZE/AFP/Getty Images)
Image: Getty Images/AFP/R. Kaze

The presidents of Nigeria and Cameroon spent two straight days in bilateral meetings in Cameroon's capital, Yaounde, discussing how to best intensify the exchange of military information and strengthen border security between their two countries in an attempt to rout the terrorist group Boko Haram.

"We cannot allow this cancer to spread," Cameroon's president, Paul Biya, told reporters after the meetings were over.

Nigeria also announced on Thursday that it had appointed one of its own generals, Major-General Iliya Abbah, to head a five-nation task force against Boko Haram.

The African Union-mandated Multi-National Joint Task Force will combine 8,700 troops from Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Benin and will be headquartered in Chad's capital, N'Djamena. Nigeria did not specify when the new regional task force would begin operations.

Boko Haram attack in Gombe, Nigeria (epa)
The aftermath of a Boko Haram attack in Gombe, Nigeria this monthImage: picture-alliance/dpa

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari won his country's elections in March, and campaigned on a promise to stop Boko Haram. "We recognize that none of us can succeed alone," Buhari said in a statement on Wednesday. "In order to win this war we need the collective efforts of each one of us, standing together as a formidable force for good, to defeat and end these acts of terror against our people."

In June, the US announced it would give $5 million (4.57 million euros) to help Nigeria set up the multi-national task force. An earlier attempt to set up a similar military force never really took shape under Nigeria's previous president, Goodluck Jonathan.

Increasing attacks

On Monday, 10 fishermen from three villages in Chad had their throats slashed and died. Local officials told reporters Boko Haram carried out the attacks.

Locals have reported an increasing number of cross-border raids and suicide bombings since Buhari took office in May, and say that Boko Haram has begun forcing women and young girls into becoming suicide bombers.

Boko Haram seeks to establish a strict caliphate ruled by Islamic law in northeast Nigeria. The group has killed more than 14,000 people and displaced about 1.5 million people since it emerged in 2009.

mes/kms (AFP, dpa)