Benin to contribute 800 troops to anti-Boko Haram force
Benin says it will dispatch 800 troops to join a multinational task force set up to combat Nigeria-based Takfiri Boko Haram militants, who are posing security threats to West African nations.
Benin’s President Thomas Boni Yayi announced the decision following a meeting with his visiting Nigerian counterpart, Muhammadu Buhari, in the city of Cotonou on Saturday.
Boni Yayi told reporters that his country will show “solidarity” with its “brothers in arms” in the region by sending “a contingent of 800 men … to permanently combat these outlaws.”
In a bid to confront the threat posed by Boko Haram militants in West Africa, the Nigerian president announced last month the establishment of the multinational task force, including soldiers from Nigeria, Cameroon, Niger and Chad as well as Benin.
Earlier this week, Buhari also appointed Major General Iliya Abbah to lead the force, which is made up of 8,700 troops and headquartered in Chad’s capital city of N’Djamena.
The multinational force is expected to be more effective than a current regional anti-Boko Haram campaign launched in February.
Boko Haram, whose name means “Western education is forbidden,” has claimed responsibility for a number of deadly shooting attacks, bombings, and kidnappings in Nigeria since the beginning of its militancy in 2009, which has so far claimed the lives of some 15,000 people and displaced around 1.5 million from their homes.
Violence by Boko Haram has also spilled over into Nigeria’s neighboring countries, with Cameroon, Chad and Niger being directly affected by the growing threat of the Takfiri group in recent months.