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Boko Haram: West African leaders declare ‘war’

Presidents Goodluck Jonathan and Francois Hollande warned of Boko Haram’s links to other terrorist organizations.

African leaders, meeting in Paris, have agreed to wage ‘war’ on Nigeria’s Boko Haram Islamic militants.
Photo by Thierry Chesnot/Getty Images

African leaders, meeting in Paris, have agreed to wage ‘war’ on Nigeria’s Boko Haram Islamic militants.

President Hollande of France, that hosted the summit, said regional powers had pledged to share intelligence and co-ordinate action against the group.

Last month, the group abducted 223 schoolgirls in north-eastern Nigeria, where it is based. Fresh attacks were reported in Nigeria and Cameroon overnight.

Thousands of people have been killed by Boko Haram in recent years.

The Paris summit brought together President Francois Hollande, Nigeria’s Goodluck Jonathan, and their counterparts from Benin, Cameroon, Niger and Chad.

Mr. Hollande said participants had agreed on a “global and regional action plant.”

He said this involved “coordinating intelligence, sharing information … border surveillance, a military presence notably around Lake Chad and the capacity to intervene in case of danger.”

A video emerged, on Monday, showing about 130 of the girls wearing hijabs and reciting Koranic verses.

Cameroon’s President Paul Biya said: “We are here to declare war on Boko Haram.” Idriss Debry of Chad said it would be “total war.”

Earlier, Mr. Hollande, called Boko Haram a “major threat to West and Central Africa,” and said it had links with al-Qaeda’s North-Africa arm and “other terrorist organizations.”

BBC’s International Development Correspondent Mark Doyle says the group is an international threat, drawing fighters from not just Nigeria but also from neighboring Niger, Cameroon, and Chad.

The latest violence, suspected Boko Haram militants attacked a camp run by a Chinese engineering company in the far northern of Cameroon, near Nigeria’s north-eastern border.

In Nigeria, there were 11 people reported killed in a separate attack on a village a few hours’ drive from the Cameroonian border.

A relative of one of the victims said a woman and a child were among the dead.

Representatives from the UK, US and EU also took part in the Paris meeting.

Prior to its meeting, UK Foreign Secretary William Hague said regional powers needed to cooperate better when it came to cross-border intelligence.

Boko Haram has some of its bases in the Mandara mountain range that stands the border. However, the long frontier has been disputed in at least two places in recent years.

UK Foreign Secretary William Hague says Nigeria must work with its neighbors to tackle Boko Haram.

The abducted schoolgirls, who include Christians and Muslims, were seized, on April 14, in the north-east Nigerian town of Chibok in Borno state.

Mr. Jonathan supposedly will visit the town on Friday, but it was canceled for security reasons.

Boko Haram released a video this week showing more than 100 of the girls and offering an exchange for prisoners.

President Jonathan has ruled out negotiations over their possible release, officials say.

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