In what may be a major fruit of recent efforts by the Federal Government to tackle the Boko Haram sect yet, the United States, on Monday, announced a $5 billion contribution to the Multi-national Joint Task Force (MJTF), to boost the military operation against insurgency in Nigeria’s North-east, Chad, Niger and Cameroon.
U.S. Assistant Secretary, Bureau of African Affairs, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, who spoke at a vsnews briefing via telephone from the African Union Summit monitored by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja, said her country has been working with Nigeria and the African countries to address concerns about the group.
This, she said, is “because we don’t see this as just a Nigerian problem.
“We are having discussions with President Buhari on how we might bolster our support. We have already been working with them and providing information.
“We are providing some training and support and we’ll love to work with the new administration to see how we might increase the level of support to Nigeria.
“At the same time, we’ve just announced at the venue of the AU, five billion dollars contribution to the Multinational Task Force.
“We are also providing some equipment and support and we have a number of meetings with the countries who are members of the Multinational Joint Task Force to look at other areas we might support,” he stressed.
Thomas-Greenfield said that Africa had faced “some really horrendous terrorist attacks” over the past two years, pointing to the West Gate and Garissa University attacks in Kenya, and the kidnapping of the Chibok girls among others.
Making reference to President Muhammadu Buhari’s statement that the continent is under siege, Thomas-Greenfield agreed that “Africa has some major security challenges.
“That requires a very strong and very concerted strategic effort by African countries and partners to address the security concerns of Africa.”
She said the U.S. is providing a strong support to AU on security as the U.S. has a strong partnership with the continent on security.
“We are working closely with the Lake Chad Basin countries: Nigeria, Chad, Niger and Cameroon to address the issues of Boko Haram,” she said.
She said that U.S. had so far trained about 250,000 African peacekeepers, saying U.S. highest priority in Africa remained security.
Meanwhile, a total of 37 people were on Monday killed in separate attacks by suspected members of the Boko Haram sect in Potiskum, Yobe State and N’Djamena, the Chadian capital.
While 27 died in the N’Djamena incidence, when two suicide bombers attacked police and intelligence offices, 10 people were killed in twin suicide bombings in Potiskum, according to a police source and a civilian vigilante assisting the military against sect.
Eight vigilantes were killed in the first blast that occurred in the Igwanda area of Potiskum, while two died in the second outside a tavern and brothel in the Dorawa area of the city.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, but Potiskum has come under repeated attacks by Boko Haram in its six-year insurgency, including those by suicide bombers.
The first attack on Monday targeted the civilian vigilante office and came after a man seen carrying laptops and other computer accessories was detained.
“We suspected he was a thief and then when he couldn’t explain how he came about the things that were found on him, we took him to our office for interrogation,” said one vigilante group member.
“But we didn’t know he had explosives on him. He detonated the explosives and we lost eight men, including our commander,” said the vigilante, who asked not to be named for his own safety.
A police source in Potiskum, while confirming the attack, said: “We took eight dead bodies of the vigilante men to the hospital and the remains of the suicide bomber.”
The second blast happened moments later at an open-air tavern and brothel that had previously been hit by the Islamists.
The same police source said a man suspected to be a bomber was chased by an angry mob and set off his explosives before he was caught.
“Two people have been confirmed dead,” he added.
The Chadian government swiftly convened an emergency meeting following the simultaneous bombings outside the police headquarters and police academy in N’Djamena, an official said on condition of anonymity.
They were the first such attacks in the capital of the north-central African nation, where security has been beefed up since it joined the fight against Boko Haram earlier this year.
An official with the capital’s police force told AFP that many people were killed and wounded in the attacks, although there was no precise casualty toll. While some say 23 were killed, other sources put the casualty number as 27.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the bombings, which came as police cadets were attending a training course at the academy.
Large numbers of Chad’s security forces were seen taking up positions on the streets of the capital after the attacks.