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Africa Agrees to Send 7,500 Troops to Fight Boko Haram

In this image made from video received by The Associated Press on Monday, May 5, 2014, Abubakar Shekau, the leader of Nigeria's Islamic extremist group Boko Haram, speaks in a video in which his group claimed responsibility for the April 15 mass abduction of nearly 300 teenage schoolgirls in northeast Nigeria. Shekau threatened to sell the nearly 300 teenage schoolgirls abducted from a school in the remote northeast three weeks ago, in a new videotape received Monday. It was unclear if the video was made before or after reports emerged last week that some of the girls have been forced to marry their abductors — who paid a nominal bride price of $12 — and that others have been carried into neighboring Cameroon and Chad. Those reports could not be verified. (AP Photo)
In this image made from video received by The Associated Press on Monday, May 5, 2014, of Abubakar Shekau, the leader of Nigeria’s Islamic extremist group Boko Haram.(AP Photo)

Elias Meseret, ASSOCIATED PRESS

 

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) — African leaders have agreed to send 7,500 troops to fight the Boko Haram insurgency in northeast Nigeria, an African Union official said Saturday.

The move came after the council urged heads of state to endorse the deployment of troops from five West African countries to fight the terror group, said the head of the African Union’s Peace and Security Council, Samil Chergui.

African leaders who are members of the 54-nation African Union are meeting in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa for a two-day summit that ends Saturday.

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki Moon earlier said he support the AU’s move to send a force to fight Boko Haram. Boko Haram is increasing its attacks as Nigeria prepares for Feb. 14 elections. Thousands have been killed in the 5-year insurgency.

African nations have opened up a new international front in the war on terror. On Thursday, neighboring Chad sent a warplane and troops that drove the extremists out of a northeastern Nigeria border town in 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, brought low by corruption and politics. The foreign intervention comes just two weeks before hotly contested national elections in which President Goodluck Jonathan is seeking another term.

Chergui said Chad’s operation against Boko Haram was a result of a bilateral arrangement between the Chad and Cameroon.

“It is conducted as part of a bilateral agreement and arrangement between the two countries. The AU, however, will launch the force in the future,” he said.

Boko Haram attracted 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 Relations.
Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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