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US Helps Cameroon in Fight Against Boko Haram

FILE - United States Africa Command (AFRICOM) Commander General David Rodriguez, Oct. 3, 2014.
FILE - United States Africa Command (AFRICOM) Commander General David Rodriguez, Oct. 3, 2014.

The United States has sent military equipment and a small contingent of troops to Cameroon to fight Boko Haram terrorism. General David Rodriguez, commander of the U.S. Africa Command, AFRICOM, said about 90 of the 300 promised U.S. troops were already on their way to Cameroon.

Among the military equipment being supplied by the United States are armored vehicles with a capacity to detect land mines. Colonel Jean Jacques Fouda, in charge of Cameroon military equipment, did not disclose the total content of the materiel, but says the armored vehicles are some of the best Cameroon has ever had.

"These cars protect the soldiers to do patrol missions, long range [operations] fight against mines," he said.

Within the past several months, Boko Haram militants have resorted to using suicide bombers and planting mines on Cameroon's northern border with Nigeria, a strong hold of the insurgents. Cameroon has lost more than one hundred civilians in the suicide bomb attacks.

This week, the United States government announced it was sending about 300 troops to help fight the terrorist.

US mission

General David Rodriguez, commander of the US Africa Command, AFRICOM, headquartered in Stuttgart, says several hundred troops will be assisting joint forces from Cameroon, Nigerian, Chad, Niger and Benin to combat Boko Haram militants by conducting airborne intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance operations

"The mission of the soldiers is to help provide intelligence surveillance to the Cameroonian military as well as to the multi national task force who are together working to defeat Boko Haram. There will be less than 300," said Rodriguez.

Boko Haram militants have killed or kidnapped thousands of people in a six year insurgency that has spread to its neighbors, despite a regional offensive that included the deployment of 8,700 troops.

Last year the United States declared Boko Haram a foreign terrorist organization and placed a $7 million bounty on Boko Haram leader Shekau to help bring him to justice.