Nigeria’s neighbouring countries are ready to launch a “total war on Boko Haram”, the terrorist group responsible for the kidnapping of more than 200 schoolgirls, the president of Chad says.
Speaking at a meeting of West African nations in Paris on Saturday, Idriss Deby said: “There is determination to tackle this situation head on… to launch a war, a total war on Boko Haram.”
It can better be described as al Qaeda in west and central Africa. Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan
Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan, who has been under fire for his government’s response to the Borno state kidnapping, said that Boko Haram is the “al Qaeda in west and central Africa.”
“Boko Haram is no longer the local terror group with some religious sentiment which started in Nigeria in 2002 to 2004,” he said.
“From 2009 to date it has changed and is operating clearly as an al Qaeda organisation. It can better be described as al Qaeda in west and central Africa. It’s no longer the Boko Haram that came with the sentiments that western education is prohibited and that women must not go to school.”
Nigerian security forces have not been well structured for this kind of thing and that has been shown by the problem getting worse. William Hague
The problem of Boko Haram in other countries was shown today as the group was blamed for an attack on a Chinese plant in Cameroon – near the Nigerian border.
French President Francois Hollande reiterated the point, saying: “Boko Haram is a major threat for all of western Africa and now central Africa with proven links to AQIM (al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb) and other terrorist organisations.”
The Paris summit is aimed at working out a strategy to tackle Boko Haram. One method likely to be pursued is to refer Boko Haram to the UN Security Council, a Western diplomatic source said.
At the conference, British Foreign Secretary William Hague offered to send military advisors to help Nigeria’s army.
Mr Hague said: “Nigerian security forces have not been well structured for this kind of thing and that has been shown by the problem getting worse. We can help with that which is why we are offering to embed military advisers within the Nigerian headquarters.”
However, Nigeria must lead the way, he added.
In the UK, protesters chanted “bring back our girls” as they took part in a march to Downing Street to deliver a petition calling for the government to do more to secure the release of the missing Nigerian girls.
Around 80 demonstrators, many waving signs and placards, took part in the rally, which began outside the Nigeria High Commission in Westminster.