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To Combat Boko Haram, Nigerian Military Studies New Tactics

  • Reuters

FILE: Nigerian mlitary officials are consulting with Sri Lanka on tactics that country used to overcome terrorists. Here, Nigerian Gen. Kenneth Minimah and guards leave a meeting in Abuja on May 15, 2014.

FILE: Nigerian mlitary officials are consulting with Sri Lanka on tactics that country used to overcome terrorists. Here, Nigerian Gen. Kenneth Minimah and guards leave a meeting in Abuja on May 15, 2014.

Nigeria is studying the Sri Lankan military tactics used to crush the rebel Tamil Tigers for its own battle against Islamist group Boko Haram, the defense ministry said, after holding talks with officials from the island nation.

The government in Abuja has been criticized for failing to contain the militant group, which has killed thousands since 2009 and has stepped up its devastating attacks after abducting more than 200 girls from a school in northeast Nigeria.

Boko Haram, which wants to carve out an Islamist state in northern Nigeria, has exposed severe weaknesses in Abuja's security forces and heaped political pressure on President Goodluck Jonathan. The president has declared a "full-scale operation" against the group.

High-ranking members of Nigeria's military met with a Sri Lankan delegation to discuss counter-insurgency tactics, Nigeria's defense ministry said in a statement late Thursday.

Its chief, Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh, said the government was "seriously considering" methods used by Sri Lanka — including including "total security,'' or focusing all national resources on the military.

Sri Lankan tactics investigated

However, the international community heavily criticized Sri Lanka's tactics for the loss of civilian lives. The United Nations in March launched an investigation into alleged war crimes committed by both sides.

Sri Lanka's central government, in the capital of Colombo, fought for nearly 30 years against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) rebels, who wanted to create a separate state for the Tamil minority.

The military crushed the group and killed its entire leadership in 2009, amid Western calls for a cease-fire to protect civilians held as shields by the Tigers.

Tens of thousands of civilians were killed in the civil war’s final months.

Nigeria's armed services have been hamstrung by a lack of investment in military training, failure to maintain equipment and dwindling cooperation with Western forces.

"As far as the government's response is concerned, it really exposes the severe limitations of the military," a senior Africa analyst at the research firm IHS told Reuters in an interview Thursday.

Analyst Martin Roberts said he'd also "seen reports of various mutinies taking place ... illustrating the disconnect between the rank-and-file and the leadership."

African and Western officials this week pledged at a meeting in London to give Nigeria more military and tactical support to help combat Boko Haram and find the kidnapped schoolgirls.

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