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US to Help Cameroon with Anti-Terrorism Training

FILE - AFRICOM commander General David Rodriguez
FILE - AFRICOM commander General David Rodriguez

The head of the United States Africa Command (AFRICOM) said the U.S. will boost support for Cameroon’s efforts to fight the Nigerian terrorist group Boko Haram. General David Rodriguez announced the United States will supply equipment and logistics training during a visit to Cameroon this week.

Rodriguez said AFRICOM will step up assistance in response to a Cameroon request for more US support to combat Boko Haram - which has been terrorizing border villages and using them as staging grounds for its fight to control northern Nigeria.

"President Biya, as well as other senior leaders, have asked for support in both equipment and training. We have already begun our effort and we will continue to grow the effort based on their demand. We will support the Cameroon effort to improve their capacity, and to work with them and defeat Boko Haram and protect the population in the northern part of Cameroon," said Rodriguez.

Rodriguez praised President Biya - who has ruled Cameroon for the last 32 years - for his leadership in security issues in West Africa.

"We are also thankful for President Biya's leadership, as well as the Cameroonian leadership in the region, as they continue to work together with African partners to come up with African solutions to the security challenges of the region," said Rodriguez.

The general’s visit to Cameroon comes a week after U.S.-Nigerian military relations came under strain. Nigeria cancelled a U.S. military training program linked to the fight against Boko Haram militants, after the U.S. rejected Nigeria's request for Cobra attack helicopters. The U.S. is legally constrained as to what weapons it can provide to foreign armed forces with questionable human rights records. Nigeria is now turning to Russia to fill the gap.

Cameroon and Nigeria have been cooperating in efforts to neutralize Boko Haram. But despite this, the Islamic militants have been increasing attacks since 2013 along the two countries joint border - stealing supplies and kidnapping, murdering and recruiting young men to fight with them.

U.S. Ambassador to Cameroon Michael Hoza said he expects collaboration with the American military will help save the lives of thousands of people in northern Cameroon.

He said the United States is promoting a military partnership with Cameroon to fight the terrorist group Boko Haram because of growing concern over the tragic killings in the northern part of the central African nation.

America is the third country, following China and Germany, to officially announce their support for Cameroon's battle against Boko Haram.