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Fight against Boko Haram tops regional summit agenda

At the November meeting in N’Djamena, leaders had focused on overhauling current strategy in their fight against Boko Haram, Buhari said.

FILE: Policemen stand on guard at the premises of Government Girls Technical College, where 110 girls were kidnapped by Boko Haram Islamists at Dapchi town in northern Nigerian on 19 February 2018. Picture: AFP

ABUJA – Leaders of countries in the Lake Chad region met on Saturday in Nigeria to give fresh impetus to their fight against Boko Haram, the Nigerian presidency said.

The summit meeting, grouping Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad, Niger, Benin and the Central African Republic, is a follow-up to a November gathering in Chad called to tackle a surge in Boko Haram attacks in the restive region.

"Today's meeting is in continuation of our joint efforts to address the prevailing security challenges in our sub-region," President Muhammadu Buhari said in his opening remarks.

He said the meeting was "a clear demonstration of the resolute commitment that we all attach to the fight against our common enemy, Boko Haram, and the restoration of durable peace and security to our sub-region".

At the November meeting in N’Djamena, leaders had focused on overhauling current strategy in their fight against Boko Haram, Buhari said.

"This was necessitated by the resurgence of attacks, particularly on the military, and the abduction of civilians for ransom across our borders by Boko Haram with the support of international terrorists who have infiltrated our sub-region," he said.

The Nigerian leader said Saturday's meeting "will consider the report of the committee we set up during our last summit on the way forward", adding he hoped that its recommendations would bring a new dynamism in the fight against Boko Haram and their international affiliates.

In a communique at the end of the meeting, the leaders "renewed their commitment to the fight against Boko Haram terrorists with a view to bringing a definite end to the insurgency".

They agreed to provide relief to communities affected by the violence "within the limits of available resources" and urged international partners to provide additional assistance to the regional military force fighting the jihadists.

The heads of states also appealed to local communities to provide information that would assist in ending the violence.

Troops from Nigeria, Niger, Chad, Benin along with Cameroon's are operating in the Lake Chad region in the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) to counter the Islamic State-affiliated Boko Haram.

Since July there has been an upsurge in Boko Haram attacks on military bases, almost all of them in the region around Lake Chad.

Last month, militants raided a base in the Nigerian village of Metele, near the border with Niger, leaving at least 44 soldiers dead, although troops who survived put the death toll at more than 100.

The nine-year Boko Haram jihadist rebellion has claimed more than 27,000 lives and forced at least 1.8 million to flee their homes, sparking a dire humanitarian crisis in the region.

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