Nigeria intensifies operation against Boko Haram

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Lagos, Feb 17 (IANS) Nigerian troops have intensified their crackdown on the Boko Haram jihadi group in the northeastern part of the country and killed several militants, a defence spokesperson confirmed Monday.

The Nigerian troops, with the help of highly coordinated air assaults, have been able to flush out the militants from the Monguno area in Nigeria’s Borno state Monday morning, Xinhua reported, citing Nigeria Defence Headquarters spokesperson Chris Olukolade.

A number of terrorists have been captured in the course of operation, and truck loads of food materials and other supplies meant for terrorists operating around the town of Baga in Borno state were also seized, Olukolade said.

The defence spokesperson added that the air and land operation against the militants would be continuing with an aggressive push for freeing other areas from the militants’ control.

The latest onslaught against the Boko Haram comes on the heels of an agreement among the leaders of Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon and Niger to adopt a coordinated response to the threat posed by the deadly jihadi group.

The African Union Peace and Security Council at its 484th meeting held Jan 29 at the level of the heads of state and government had adopted a resolution to establish a 7,500-strong force initially, to combat the Boko Haram.

On the other hand, Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon, Benin and Niger have announced a proposal to form a multinational force of 8,700 to fight the militants.

However, the militants continued their attacks Monday, this time in Cameroon, where they killed at least four government soldiers and injured 10 others, Xinhua reported.

The attack took place as the leaders of Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) met in Cameroon’s capital Yaounde Monday for a regional summit to discuss the issue of effectively fighting the Boko Haram.

The name Boko Haram, translated from the local dialect, means “non-Islamic education is a sin”.

The group has been a major security threat in Nigeria since 2009 and seeks to enshrine the Islamic Sharia law in the constitution of Africa’s most populous country, Nigeria, and create an Islamic state in the mainly Muslim northern part of the country.

Nigeria’s neighbours Cameroon, Chad and Niger have also faced the brunt of Boko Haram attacks.