In a notification to Congress, President Barack Obama said an advance force of about 90 military personnel began deploying on Monday to Cameroon, with the consent of the Yaounde government.
The troops will “conduct airborne intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance operations in the region,” Obama said.
“These forces are equipped with weapons for the purpose of providing their own force protection and security, and they will remain in Cameroon until their support is no longer needed,” he added
US officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the troops would provide intelligence to a multi-national task force being set up to fight Boko Haram, composed of troops from Nigeria, Niger, Cameroon, Chad and Benin Republic.
Boko Haram, which wants to carve out an Islamist caliphate and has allied itself to Islamic State, earlier this year stepped up cross-border attacks on Nigeria’s neighbours.
On Sunday, two female suicide bombers killed nine people in the town of Mora in Cameroon’s Far North region, employing a tactic increasingly favoured by Boko Haram.
The American officials said the US soldiers would deploy initially to the city of Garoua in northern Cameroon, not far from the Nigerian border. The force will include Predator drones for surveillance.
The White House said the move was not in response to any changed assessment of threat in the region. The US has no combat troops in Africa, but has been increasing support to allies battling Boko Haram in the region.
PMB insists on December deadline to crush insurgents
President Muhammadu Buhari insisted yesterday that he remained fully confident the country’s armed forces would finally crush Boko Haram by December this year.
According to him, by the end of this year, Boko Haram’s ability to attack, seize, ravage and hold any Nigerian territory would have been completely obliterated.
The president, who affirmed this at an audience with the Commander of United States Africa Command, Gen David Rodriguez, noted that this would be made possible by greater support from his administration in terms of improved training, equipment, logistics and welfare.
Presidential spokesman, Mr. Femi Adesina, quoted the president as saying the Nigerian Armed Forces were now well positioned to meet the December deadline which they had been given to end the Boko Haram insurgency.
Adesina noted that the president seized the opportunity of General Rodriquez’s visit to restate his appreciation of US support for Nigeria’s efforts to overcome terrorism and insurgency.
Buhari said, “We must thank the United States of America for sending training teams and equipment to us. The positive results of our collaboration are evident. Structured attacks by the insurgents have reduced and by the end of the year, we should see the final routing of Boko Haram as an organized fighting force.”
The president, however, appealed for greater cooperation from the United States in securing the Gulf of Guinea through which stolen Nigerian crude oil is shipped abroad.
He decried the severe revenue losses which Nigeria suffers from crude oil theft, saying his administration was determined to end this criminal practice and would welcome more support from the international community in this regard.
Earlier, General Rodriguez had told President Buhari that he was in the country to strengthen Nigeria/US military relations, and also explore further options for assisting the Multinational Joint Task Force established by Nigeria and her neighbours to fight Boko Haram.
10 die in Maiduguri as Boko Haram carry out another nocturnal suicide bombing
Three deafening explosions from suicide bombings echoed over the city of Maiduguri, Borno State, in quick succession and all within three minutes as Boko Haram terrorists carried out yet another night attack in Anilari-Cross, a crowded suburb, security sources and witnesses said.
The weather was 39 degree Celsius on Tuesday and residents looked forward to savouring the cool breeze of the outside their home, but their hopes were dashed abruptly as deafening blasts thundered over the city at about 8:25pm when residents were relaxing in their homes.
Ajilari has become a hotbed for the Boko Haram suicide bombers. The last two of such nocturnal suicide attacks were recorded there.
Abubakar Sadiq, a resident of Ajilari Cross, said he was forced to flee back into his house from where he was sitting outside when bombs began to rent the air.
“We heard a strange heavy sound around Bulunkutu Kasuwa and Ajilari-Cross area at exactly 8.25pm, and another set of blasts came almost simultaneously at intervals of two minutes after the first one. We had to rush into the house when gunshots were heard some five minutes later,” said Sadiq, a media practitioner.
Abbas Gava, an operative of the local vigilante in Maiduguri, informed our reporter at about midnight that “it was suicide bombing attack carried out by three Boko Haram members and more than a dozen persons have been affected, some are dead and others injured.”
“All of the suicide bombers were young boys in their teens; one of them was heard shouting ‘help, help, come help me from Boko Haram’ before the bombs on his body exploded,” said Gava.
“The second one entered a house here in Ajilari and saluted them in Islamic way (Salam alaikum) and when the members of the household opened the door for him, the bomb went off killing a woman, her child and her husband.”
Spokesman of the Nigeria Army, Colonel Sani Kukasheka Usman, also confirmed the attack in a statement issued to the press.
“We would like to confirm that there were triple suspected human-borne improvised explosive device explosions this evening at Ajilari, Maiduguri Metropolitan Council, Borno State,” said Colonel Usman, acting director, Army Public Relations.
“The explosives occurred at three-minute intervals and seven people were confirmed dead, including the three suicide terrorists, while 11 others sustained various degrees of injuries.
“The Nigerian Army wishes to also inform the public that, today, troops of 5 Brigade ambushed the suspected Boko Haram terrorists that attacked a military location at Geidam town last week. They were ambushed while returning from an attack on Gajiram near Ngollom village.
“The troops killed 10 Boko Haram terrorists and wounded some. The troops also recovered one anti-aircraft gun, five AK 47 rifles, one Fabrique Nationale Rifle (FNR), two machine guns and one light machine gun. Other weapons and equipment recovered include a rocket propelled grenade tube, eight AK 47 rifle magazines, one Toyota Land cruiser, and two belts of 7.62mm (NATO) with 150 and 180 rounds of ammunition respectively.
“Additionally, troops on patrol around Monguno have arrested one Abacha Kumjo, a suspected Boko Haram fuel and logistics supplier. He was arrested with 20 litres of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) neatly concealed in a black polythene bag while trying to cross from Monguno to a terrorists’ camp. He siphoned the fuel from his Golf wagon vehicle with registration number AA 175 MFA, Borno State. The suspect is being interrogated further.”
The Army spokesman called on the public to cooperate with security agencies, to be more security conscious and to report suspected persons or unusual movements to the security agencies.
“The fight against terrorism and insurgency is a collective responsibility of all well-meaning citizens. We should not allow these criminals to succeed in thwarting our collective efforts of peaceful coexistence,” he added. -Leadership