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West Africa leaders vow to wage 'total war' on Boko Haram



By John Irish and Elizabeth Pineau

(Reuters) - West African leaders on Saturday agreed to work together to wage "total war" on Boko Haram saying the Nigerian Islamist group had become a regional al Qaeda that threatened all of them.

Nigeria's neighbors Chad, Cameroon, Niger and Benin, and Western officials, met in Paris to flesh out a plan enabling them for the first time to share intelligence, coordinate action and monitor borders.

Although Boko Haram has been fighting for five years, carrying out bombings and attacks on civilians and the security forces, the kidnapping last month of more than 200 girls from a school in the northeast has focused world attention on them.

"Boko Haram is no longer a local terrorist group, it is operating clearly as an al Qaeda operation, it is an al Qaeda of West Africa," Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan told a news conference in Paris following the meeting.

"We have shown our commitment for a regional approach. Without West African countries coming together we will not be able to crush these terrorists," he said.

Outrage over the mass abduction has prompted Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan - criticized at home and abroad for his government's slow response - to accept U.S., British and French intelligence help in the hunt for the girls.

British Foreign Minister William Hague, speaking before the start of a meeting, said the Nigerian military was not organized in a way to deal effectively with the group, and offered military advisers to help structure them.

"There is determination to tackle this situation head on ... to launch a war, a total war on Boko Haram," Chad's President Idriss Deby said.

The countries agreed to launch coordinated patrols and rescue operations, share intelligence, put in place a mechanism to prevent weapons' smuggling and monitor borders.

Intelligence services and army heads would also meet soon to come up with a region-wide strategy to fight terrorism.

"The threat is serious and dangerous for the region, Africa and Europe," French President Francois Hollande said, although no concrete operational measures were announced.

African Leaders Declare 'War' On Boko Haram

SPREADING INSTABILITY

With 6,000 French troops operating in either Mali to the northwest or the Central African Republic to the east, Paris has an interest in preventing a deterioration in Nigeria's security.

Like its Western allies, Paris has ruled out any military operation saying it was primarily for Nigeria to take the lead, although Hollande said Rafale fighter jets based in the Chadian capital N'Djamena - just 60 km from the Nigerian border - would be used for reconnaissance missions.

Paris fears Boko Haram could spread north into the Sahel and beyond Cameroon into the Central African Republic. Boko Haram has already targeted French interests in Nigeria, kidnapping a French family in northern Cameroon last year.

Suspected Boko Haram rebels also attacked a Chinese work site in northern Cameroon on Friday, killing at least one Cameroonian soldier, and at least 10 people are believed to have been kidnapped, the regional governor said.

"We have affirmed our solidarity and determination to vigorously fight Boko Haram," Cameroon President Paul Biya said. "They have committed one more attack, attacked businessmen and this comes after the French hostages were kidnapped. As we speak we are searching for an Italian priest and a Canadian nun. The problem has become regional, if not a Western problem."

The group has killed more than 3,000 people in its war to establish an Islamic state in mostly Muslim northeast Nigeria.

Biya said he would send more means and troops to the north, but that Boko Haram had been picking soft targets and outnumbering his troops.

Nigeria has complained the far north of Cameroon is being used by Boko Haram militants to shelter from a Nigerian military offensive and to transport weapons, and has urged Cameroon to tighten border security.

Jonathan said there was a "misconception" in the relation between the two countries over crossing each others borders and that this would now be ironed out.

"The main outcome is that the region is now aware of a problem that for a long time was considered an internal Nigerian problem. Abuja has accepted to go beyond its borders," a Western diplomatic source said.

Highlighting that, the source said Nigeria, which sits on the 15-member U.N. Security Council, had agreed in principle to ask for Boko Haram and its key members to be placed on a U.N. sanctions list, as has been the case with other militant groups such as al Qaeda.

"The world is aware of these young school girls who were abducted, but quite frankly Boko Haram has been creating havoc for sometime," U.S. Under Secretary for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman told Reuters.

"We are all coordinated, we are all focused, this doesn't stop at borders, terrorism does not know borders and so we're going to work in a collective manner to get the job done."

(Editing by Alison Williams)

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Jeff May 17 2014 at 6:38 PM

I just pray the US doesn't find these guys....we wouldn't kill anybody...just lock them up, feed them, allow them to marry, have sex, health care, and probably let them out in a few years because of overcrowded conditions in our prisons, then allow them to vote(no ID needed), receive social security, food stamps, free phones and educate their children for free. Finally, we would pave the way for them to rule themselves using Sharia Law. Please let someone else find them and terminate the sorry bastards.

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4 replies
tpm May 17 2014 at 5:51 PM

My boyfriend is Nigerian, lives in west Africa. Nigerians know it's impossible for a huge convoy of Boko Haram, not in a remote area, to drive in, take 300 girls, and drive out into oblivion without a trace. That's more people than a Boeing 737 will hold. No matter how well planned, this is not the Bermuda Triangle. There's land to cover and a significant population. The ultimate goal of Boko Haram is to divide and conquer, and they use corrupt leaders & officials to assist them. Too many officials were openly looking the other way, seeking cheap means to cover themselves with religious and ethnic disguises in order to further entrench division among Nigerians -- northern politicians, northern elders, the police force, the army, the village chiefs, border authorities...all may be accomplices, each in their own way. Anyway, these are the thoughts of many Nigerians, I am told. May God bless & protect the children...they are the future of the great nation of Nigeria.

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3 replies
antonio_cruz15 May 17 2014 at 10:25 PM

The alarming rate at which Muslims are killing Christians in Africa and the Middle east shows the intolerance of Muslims towards other faiths. The alarming way they threat their women and children should at least awaken the obamas, hillary, kerry, oprah and the rest to take global military action to ensure the safety of those poor human beings being persecuted. That the people above remain silent and do nothing to bring swift justice to those murderers of women and children shows their duplicity and lack of moral strength. For people who believe in abortion they are doing just what would be expected which is disregarding the value of christian women and children's lives. They refuse to act because they are afraid of political consequences and it is not in vogue to criticize the Muslims. For condolessa rice to have to decline giving a speech at a university because of protests against her shows that this country is bending over backwards to cater to Muslims.HusseinBarackObama=muslim.

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6 replies
klw4919 May 18 2014 at 12:39 AM

Unfortunately the people of the western world are probably going to allow themselves to be killed by the hordes that are continuing to invade us. They have no desire to fight. They are only concerned with looking beautiful, having more sex, learning all the details of the lives of empty headed entertainers, acquiring the latest most expensive cars, electronic gadgets and clothes, taking narcissistic pictures of themselves and worrying whether this or that current foodcraze is going to harm them or possibly make them eternally young and healthy. They are obsessed at all costs with staying young and sexually desirable. They are livng in an infantile fantasy that will prove to be nearly impossible to wake up from until it is much too late. You people who have reared this current generation have done an absolutely miserable job and you should be deeply ashamed of your incompetance.

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6 replies
riverhosed May 17 2014 at 5:45 PM

Nuke 'em.

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Scooby May 18 2014 at 12:44 PM

Well lets see how long it takes for them to actually do something. I'm sure there will be several meetings, talks, and by the time they get around to taking action those girls will be long gone. I'll believe it when I see it.

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Dave May 17 2014 at 10:19 PM

According to Obama, this was a man caused disaster. There are no Muslim terrorists in the world. Al Queda is on the run, according to the man who would be king.

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3 replies
tpm May 17 2014 at 9:55 PM

A teenage girl's story of surviving Boko Haram after witnessing them murder her father and brother when they refused to deny their faith. Her dad was a pastor, his church was burned down the month before. They tied her between the corpses of her dad and brother until she was rescued the next day. Boko Haram are as horrifying and evil as they get, and they specifically target Christians:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xMwIYdsVMvo

The full discussion: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iMBJSknnAnI

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lakota6020 May 17 2014 at 10:43 PM

It is about time we all get together and stop the Islamist radicals. It appears that whatever country they are in they want their own state and sharia laws. No one is safe even their own, they murder without a qualm. Cair is still lobbying for a state here and Sharia laws. Stop these madmen and stop slavery in Africa and elsewhere. Drag them kicking and screaming into the 21st century.

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1 reply
PATRICK lakota6020 May 18 2014 at 3:17 AM

Amen Brother

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tnrunning8 May 17 2014 at 6:33 PM

The only thing worse then these terrorists, are the liberals in the USA that continue to defend them claiming they are peaceful people of a peaceful religion. And for what's its worth, I've read the Quran. It does promote violence, but truthfully 95% of it does promote peace. It's the 5% that is the problem and it's a big one. It's like having a small speck of poop in your milk, it still needs to be all thrown away.

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1 reply
John tnrunning8 May 17 2014 at 7:07 PM

The book does say Murder all non-muslims.

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1 reply
penbram John May 17 2014 at 7:52 PM

Yeah, and the Bible says to stone your sister to death if she commits adultery.

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