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'No shortcuts for Africa in fight against jihadists'

A US general says jihadists are developing new tactics and recruiting more fighters.

Senegals Army General Amadou Kane (C) and US Army General Donald Bolduc (L) review the troops during the inauguration of a military base in Thies, 70 km from Dakar, on 8 February 8 2016 on the second day of a three-week joint military exercise between African, US and European troops, known as Flintlock. Picture: Seyllou/AFP.

PRETORIA/THIES/WASHINGTON - African states must brace for a long-term fight against extremist Islamist organisations, says the US Special Forces chief on the continent.

Speaking at the start of a multinational counterinsurgency exercise in Senegal, General Donald Bolduc says jihadists are developing new tactics, recruiting more fighters and learning from each other.

Fighting jihadists is long term and there's no shortcuts to it, says Bolduc.

Bolduc says with jihadists in Africa increasingly resorting to attacks on markets and security forces, the latest round of training will focus on improving police and military preparedness, particularly for urban warfare.

African forces began a US-led counter-terrorism training programme in Senegal on this week.

The annual "Flintlock" exercises started only weeks after an attack in Burkina Faso's capital Ouagadougou left 30 people dead. The assault on a hotel used by foreigners raised concerns that militants were expanding from a stronghold in north Mali towards stable, Western allies like Senegal.

Bolduc told reporters this week that increased collaboration between militant groups meant they have been able to strengthen and strike harder in the region.

"We have watched that collaboration manifest itself with Isis becoming more effective in north Africa, Boko Haram becoming more deadly in the Lake Chad Basin (and) Aqim adopting asymmetrical attacks ... against urban infrastructure," he said.

Meanwhile, President Barack Obama is proposing about $200 million in new military spending to confront Islamist militants in north and west Africa, US defence officials said ahead of Tuesday's budget rollouts for the next fiscal year.

US officials declined to specify to which nations the funding would be directed. The disclosure comes as the United States and its allies discuss ways to halt the spread of Islamic State in Libya and elsewhere in Africa from its self-declared caliphate in Syria and Iraq.

Additional reporting by Reuters.

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