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African Leaders Seek to Address Boko Haram Violence

Chadian soldiers gathered near the Nigerian town of Gamboru, just across the border from Cameroon, to conduct cleanup operations after retaking the town from Boko Haram militants, Feb. 1, 2015.

Cameroon’s information minister says the ongoing military offensive against the Nigeria-based Islamist group Boko Haram is an indication of the commitment of African heads of state to end the violence carried out by the militants.

Nigeria, Chad and Cameroon troops have launched a joint military operation against the group.

Chad says its forces repelled a Boko Haram attack on Fotocol and chased the militants across the border to the Nigerian town of Gambaru.

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Issa Tchiroma Bakari said the countries involved in the military action have been sharing intelligence as part of an effort to protect their citizens.

His comments came after Yaoundé said at least 91 civilians have been killed by Boko Haram since the militants invaded Cameroonian villages on Wednesday.

Bakari said the military operation against the radicals by Nigeria, Chad and Cameroon troops is backed by the African Union. He said if not decisively addressed the violence could engulf the entire continent.

“All the five nations …have decided to come together to address this issue and possibly to get rid of Boko Haram, which has been undermining the lives of people, and our economy,our way of living,” said Bakari. “They have to come together and share intelligence to bring together their means [and] to get the assistance of the international community…to address this issue.”

He said it was important that the countries joined forces since the militants often carry out cross border attack on villages and attack unarmed civilians as well as engage in kidnappings.

Information minister Bakari said the Cameroonian government is committed to defeating the militants.

“It is almost impossible, and they will never succeed to settle in Cameroon,” said Bakari. “What they do [is] whenever they need food, … meat,they come and raid the villages. [They] loot [civilian] properties, terrorize …and kill people. Whenever we hear about this then we organize retaliation. This is what [took] place yesterday morning.”

At a recent summit in Ethiopia, African heads of state and government decided to establish a standby army comprising 7,500 troops to help West and Central African countries currently battling Boko Haram.

Bakari said support from the African Union serves as a significant boost to the military action against Boko Haram.

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