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New regional force to fight Boko Haram 'any time now'

28 July 2015, 19:10

Abuja - A new regional force tasked with fighting Boko Haram jihadists should go into action very soon, Nigeria's military spokesman told AFP on Tuesday, though he did not specify when for tactical reasons.

The Multi-National Joint Task Force will replace a regional offensive that has scored a number of victories against the Nigeria-based militants since February.

But Boko Haram has stepped up its attacks since Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari was sworn in in May, unleashing a wave of violence that has claimed 800 lives in just two months.

Also read: Boko Haram attacks northern Yobe State

The 8,700-strong force is expected to be more efficient than the current offensive, which is battling a six-year insurgency that has killed some 15,000 people.

"Any moment from now, the operations or the Task Force will be manifest. In other words, we may not tell you (when it will commence), you will just see it," Nigeria's military spokesman Major General Chris Olukolade told AFP.

"The mission has been sectorised, various sector commanders have been briefed, the briefing is ongoing at different levels... the aspect of the Nigerian force that will be part of the Multinational Joint Task Force has been designated," Olukolade added.

The force will have its headquarters in Cameroonian capital N'Djamena, which the Nigerian president will visit starting Wednesday for talks on the offensive.

Few details have emerged on the specific nature of the new force, raising concerns its deployment may face delays.

The Nigerian general who had initially been named to lead the force, Tukur Yusuf Buratai, has since been appointed Chief of Staff of Nigeria's military.

No one has been nominated to replace him as yet.



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