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Nigerian Army repels Boko Haram attack
February 1, 2015, 8:18 pm

The African Union says it will send 7,500 troops to help Nigeria, Chad and Cameroon to defeat Boko Haram [Xinhua]

The African Union says it will send 7,500 troops to help Nigeria, Chad and Cameroon to defeat Boko Haram [Xinhua]

The Nigerian military announced on Sunday that its soldiers, backed by an auxiliary force of government-allied militia and vigilantes, repelled a second effort by the extremist group Boko Haram to seize control of Maiduguri, capital of the northern state of Borno.

The Nigerian army’s successful defense of the city is seen as a boost of morale for a military that has been largely on the defensive since Boko Haram began a coordinated campaign 18 months ago to expand territory even reaching neighboring Cameroon.

The repelled attack comes a day after African Union (AU) leaders pledged in their final communique in Addis Ababa to send 7,500 troops to assist the Nigerian, Chadian and Cameroonian armies in the conflict against Boko Haram.

The promise of troop deployment comes a year after Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan appealed to the UN for help in quelling what has become a full-scale rebellion in the north.

The troop pledge also comes after Chad announced in mid-January that it would deploy a military contingent to assist neighbor Cameroon which has been “invaded” by the Islamist Boko Haram in recent weeks.

On January 16, the Chadian parliament authorized the deployment of thousands of heavily equipped soldiers to northern Cameroon.

The AU appears to have responded to Cameroon President Paul Biya’s January appeal to African allies to join the fight against Boko Haram.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, who attended the AU Summit, said he welcomed the deployment pledge.

Target: Maiduguri

A Boko Haram capture of Maiduguri would not only be of strategic importance, but also serve as a psychological victory against the Nigerian government and military.

Firstly, it was in Maiduguri that Boko Haram first launched its military campaign to create an Islamic state in northern Nigeria.

Secondly, Maiduguri has been a staging point for the Nigerian military to launch attacks and counteroffensives against Boko Haram. If the city were to fall to the extremist group, it would be a military disaster for the Nigerian government.

Boko Haram has in the past year shifted tactics from mere terrorist attacks to seizing territory.

Capturing Maiduguri would be a key step in ensuring territorial expansion and the creation of a buffer zone between regions under Boko Haram control and countries which may come to Nigeria’s aid. It also falls in line with the group’s vow to create an Islamic state in Africa, irrespective of borders; Maiduguri would be their new capital.

The BRICS POST with inputs from Agencies

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