The African Union, a bloc of 54 African nations, will discuss plans to send a multinational force to “deal permanently” with militants of Boko Haram, according to media reports. The reports come almost two weeks after the Nigeria-based Islamist militant group killed over 2,000 people in a northern town, an attack many described as the “deadliest massacre” in the history of Boko Haram.
“We must find a way to act together to share information, to synchronize our strategies, to pool our resources in order to rid the entire African continent of terrorism,” Ghana's President John Mahama reportedly said, on Friday, adding that the Boko Haram crisis was “increasingly getting to the point where probably a regional or a multinational force is coming into consideration.”
The Nigerian Islamist group, whose name translates to “Western education is forbidden,” has been carrying out several attacks across the country since 2009 and has also launched cross-border attacks in Niger and Cameroon. The group had also claimed responsibility for the abduction of over 200 girls in the northern Nigerian town of Chibok, who, despite a worldwide campaign for their release, have still not been found.
“This has to end. We have to make this terror end … terrorism is like a cancer and if we don't deal with it will keep going. It threatens everybody in the region. When it comes to terrorism nobody is too far or too near,” Mahama reportedly said.
The announcement by the Ghanaian leader comes even as Chad, which had on Thursday pledged to send a “substantial contingent” of troops to fight Boko Haram militants, began deploying troops on Friday to the neighboring nation of Cameroon, according to media reports. Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported that the troops might eventually head toward the town of Baga, where Boko Haram had allegedly killed over 2,000 people, including women and children. The Nigerian government, however, has disputed the figure and has officially put the death toll at 150.
Chad’s decision to send reinforcements to Cameroon comes just days after Cameroonian officials said that security forces had killed over 140 Boko Haram militants, who had attacked one of its army bases near the Nigerian border, adding that it was the heaviest loss sustained by the group, according to media reports.