The United States will contribute $5 million to fund a multi-national, anti-Boko Haram task force, based in Chad but led by Nigeria, according to Assistant Secretary of State for Africa Linda Thomas-Greenfield.
“The multi-national force is expected to be made up of troops from Nigeria, Niger, Chad, Cameroon and Benin,” reports the BBC. The African Union has long supported such a “collective, effective, and decisive response.”
As the BBC explains, there were some steep political and diplomatic hurdles to overcome, including a pronounced lack of faith in the administration of previous Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan. The human rights record of Nigeria’s military made an infusion of American weapons problematic.
For his part, Jonathan accused the U.S. of failing to give him needed support against the Boko Haram terrorists, and was reluctant to embrace a multi-national force because he feared it would jeopardize Nigerian sovereignty. It was not unusual to hear the Nigerian elite express fears that peacekeepers from other African nations would use the Boko Haram threat as an excuse to annex Nigerian territory. Some even expressed conspiracy theories that Boko Haram was a proxy army for rival nations.
The growing menace of the ISIS-aligned terror gang seems to have pushed such concerns aside, along with Goodluck Jonathan’s replacement last month by President Muhammadu Buhari. Buhari expressed more openness to international assistance against the terrorists, who the BBC estimates have killed 13,000 people and displaced 1.5 million.
Boko Haram killed at least 23 people and wounded 100 more in the capital city of Chad with suicide-bomb attacks, prompting airstrikes from Chad against six Boko Haram bases in Nigeria, according to CNN. Although Boko Haram has not officially claimed responsibility for the bomb attack, it is thought to have been an act of retaliation against Chad for participating in anti-Boko Haram operations.
Chad’s government also decided to ban the burqa, going so far as sending security forces to rummage through markets and burn every burqa they can find, evidently because burqas can so easily be used to conceal bombs and guns.
Another Boko Haram cross-border attack on Wednesday reportedly killed at least 38 people in raids on two villages in Niger.