African nations pledge 8,700 troops to fight Boko Haram

by Ranti Joseph

African nations pulling together a regional force to fight Nigeria’s Boko Haram militants on Saturday pledged 8 ,700 soldiers, policemen and civilians, an increase from earlier estimates for the mission.

The African Union had previously authorised a force of 7, 500 troops from Nigeria , Chad , Cameroon , Niger and Benin to take on the insurgents , who have seized large swathes of northeastern Nigeria and mounted attacks on neighbouring nations.

With Nigeria also trying to organise elections and the militant threat turning increasingly regional, diplomats have said neighbouring nations must bury mutual mistrust and join the fight to defeat the militants.

The new troop pledges came after three days of talks in Cameroon between experts from the nations of the Lake Chad basin , the region where Boko Haram is seeking to create an Islamist enclave. No budget for the regional mission was given and neither were details on when troops would be deployed .

Further talks are to take place before the AU seeks support for the mission from the United Nations Security Council . Chad has already dispatched 2 ,500 soldiers to Cameroon and Niger and its troops have engaged the militants in a series of battles that have killed hundreds along the border zone .

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