UK & World News

  • 18 May 2014, 10:28

Nigeria Kidnappings: Nations Declare War

Nigeria and its neighbours say they are ready to wage war on the Islamist group Boko Haram which kidnapped more than 200 schoolgirls.

The leaders of Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon, Niger and Benin said the movement had become a regional al Qaedawhich threatened all of them.

The heads have met at a conference in Paris to agree a plan which allows them for the first time to share intelligence, coordinate action and monitor borders.

Nigeria's president has said he was "totally committed" to finding the 223 kidnapped girls who were taken from a school in Chibok last month.

Goodluck Jonathan said Boko Haram was no longer a local terror threat but was "acting clearly as an al Qaeda operation".

Mr Jonathan added: "We have shown our commitment for a regional approach. Without West African countries coming together we will not beable to crush these terrorists."

Cameroon's President Paul Biyasaid: "The problem with Boko Haram is that it is no longer only a Nigerian problem, it is becoming a regional problem, if not a problem for the whole of Africa.

"So we are here to declare war on Boko Haram, we will chase them and we will defeat those terrorists."

Chad's president Idriss Debyadded: "There is determination to tackle this situation head on ... to launch a war, a total war on Boko Haram" as fears mount the group will spread beyond its borders and destabilise the wider region.

Earlier, Mr Jonathan's aide Dr Doyin Okupetold Sky News the president would visit the town where the girls were snatched and said the disclosure he had cancelled a trip because of safety fears was a "misconception".

The announcement by his office on Friday had prompted outrage among relatives of the girls, in a community already angry that is has taken the president so long to visit the town.

Mr Jonathan had been urged by Foreign Secretary William Hague to improve significantly the security forces, who the British politician described as "not well-structured".

French President FrancoisHollande said Boko Haram was linked to al Qaeda and was now a direct threat to the West.

It comes as Nigerian police told Sky News they lacked the equipment to prevent another attack by BokoHaram.There has also been mounting anger over missed opportunities to rescue the girls in the immediate aftermath of the school attack.

There have been long-running hostilities between Nigeria and Cameroon, which has significantly damaged the potential for joint action against Boko Haram.

However, with Mr Jonathan's attempt to drive the Islamist movement out, many have fled to the Cameroon border and the rebels have recently carried out several attacks in the country.

On Saturday, rebels attacked a Chinese plant in the north of Cameroon, killing one worker and abducting a further 10, according to reports.

The international community has galvanised efforts to find the girls, who were kidnapped on April 14, with Britain, France and US sending specialist teams and equipment.

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