News: AU Backs 7,500 Troops Regional Force To Fight Boko Haram



According Channels Television report, the African Union has endorsed a West African plan to set up a regional task force of 7,500 to fight Islamist Boko Haram militants, a senior official said on Thursday.

“We are thinking of a force of 7,500 women and men. The next step is to submit (approval) to the U.N. Security Council,” the Commissioner of the AU’s Peace and Security Council, Smail Chergui, told reporters on the sidelines of an African summit in Addis Ababa.

Tackling Boko Haram was top of the agenda at the meeting of African leaders and officials.

“Hopefully now with this concept, this force will be better organised and we can achieve the goal that we are looking for, that is to really stop the killing and these barbaric acts of Boko Haram,” Chergui said.

A U.N. mandate could help draw international assistance for the African regional force.

The African group plans to meet next week in Cameroon to draw up a “concept of operations” to cover strategy, rules of engagement, command and control, and related issues, Chergui said.

Senior officials have told Reuters that each of the five nations would contribute a battalion and each contingent would be based within its national borders with operations coordinated from Chad’s capital, N’Djamena.

Boko Haram has seized control of parts of north-east Nigeria and killed thousands in a six-year insurgency.

On Thursday, President Goodluck Jonathan visited Adamawa, one of three states placed under a state of emergency because of the insurgency.

Speaking in the state capital, Yola, he said the army had just recaptured the town of Michika, leaving only one of Adamawa’s Local Government Areas, Madagali, in the hands of militants.

Military sources told the BBC there had been a fierce battle for Michika and troops were carrying out mopping-up operations in surrounding villages. They cautioned that it was too early to say the army was in full control of the area.