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AU Leaders Seek Fund to Fight Militants

Chad's President Idriss Deby, left, and his Nigerian counterpart Goodluck Jonathan at the Africa Union Peace and Security Council Summit on Terrorism, Kenyatta International Convention Centre, Nairobi, Sept. 2, 2014.

African leaders proposed on Tuesday creating a special fund to combat Islamist militant groups growing in strength from Kenya to Nigeria.

African Union (AU) states announced the idea after Nairobi talks on a problem highlighted on Tuesday by capture of a town in northeastern Nigeria by Boko Haram militants. Fighting killed scores of people, according to security forces, and sent at least 5,000 fleeing.

President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya, where al-Shabab gunmen last September killed 67 people in a raid on a shopping mall, said African countries should stand together against the threat of Boko Haram and al-Shabab.

"No single state can tackle this threat alone," he said. "It is particularly worrying in Africa today that terrorist organizations have grown both in terms of number and capability."

Chad President Idriss Deby, who is chairperson of the AU Peace and Security Council, said: "There is a proposal to establish a special fund to combat terrorism."

But Deby, flanked by Kenyatta and Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan at a news conference, gave no details about who would contribute to the fund or how the money would be used.

Swaths of Africa has been ravaged by Islamist insurgencies, with the likes of Boko Haram launching attacks in Nigeria and Cameroon, while Somalia's al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab rebels have struck at targets in Kenya and Uganda.

The idea of the fund was mooted by Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and will be discussed at the next full AU summit.

Kenyatta said African states would have to increase their own spending on security to curb the organized militant groups.

Many African countries, including Kenya and Nigeria, are key Western allies in the global fight against Islamist militants and their security services receive substantial training and support from the United States, Britain and other donors.

The United States has said it is assessing whether al-Shabab leader Ahmed Abdi Godane was killed in a U.S. airstrike in Somalia on Monday.

Saudi Arabia said it would contribute $10 million to the AU to fight militant groups which have often taken advantage of porous borders and inept police forces across the continent.