US to fund Nigeria-led force

Nigerian troops are likely to make up the bulk of the force

Nigerian troops are likely to make up the bulk of the force

The US says it will give $5m (£3.2m) towards a multi-national task force being set up to fight Nigeria’s militant Islamist group Boko Haram.

Boko Haram “was not just a Nigerian problem”, US official Linda Thomas-Greenfield said.

The group was blamed for suicide bombings which killed more than 20 people in neighbouring Chad on Monday.

Chad will be the headquarters of the Nigeria-led force of around 7,500 troops from five countries.

The formation of the force has gained momentum since Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari took office last month.

Nigeria’s previous administration, led by Goodluck Jonathan, was seen to have dragged its heels over the creation of the force, as it feared it would undermine Nigeria’s sovereignty, correspondents say.

The US also turned down a request by Mr Jonathan’s administration last year to sell it weapons because of the poor human rights record of its military.

The issue led to a diplomatic row, with Nigeria accusing the US of refusing to help land a “killer punch” against Boko Haram.

Ms Thomas-Greenfield, the US assistant secretary of state for Africa, said the US was in talks with Mr Buhari’s government on how it could assist more in the campaign against the militants.

It comes after President Buhari’s visit last week to the G7 summit in Germany where he said Nigeria would welcome more international support in the struggle with the jihadists. –BBC

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