Chad has joined neighboring states Cameroon and Nigeria in the fight against Boko Haram. Chad’s Parliament voted 150 to 0 on January 16 to dispatch an undisclosed number of Chadian security forces to assist Cameroon and Nigeria in the war against Boko Haram terrorists.
More details from the Wall Street Journal:
Cameroon’s President Paul Biya told reporters that the Chadian army would send “an important contingent” of soldiers, without expanding further. A statement from the Chadian government confirmed as much, though it also didn’t say how many soldiers Chad would send or what their role would be.
Chad’s decision to send soldiers comes two weeks after Boko Haram seized a military base in Nigeria, just across Lake Chad, the shallow, desert-encroached body of water that separates the two countries. The capture of that base, in the town of Baga, saw hundreds of civilians killed and more than 3,700 buildings burned down. Some unverifiable refugee accounts said about 2,000 died.
Earlier this month, Boko Haram’s purported leader, Abubakar Shekau, released a video declaring war on Cameroon and calling on his followers there to rise up. “Your troops cannot do anything to us,” he said, before firing an assault rifle into the sky.
Days later, the insurgents sneaked from Nigeria across the mountains into Cameroon, moving under the cover of fog, Cameroon’s government said. When they reached the town of Kolofata, they ambushed a group of soldiers who, Cameroon’s government said, managed to hold their position, though the result couldn’t be independently confirmed.
Additional details were reported by the AFP:
“Dozens of Chadian tanks headed out of N’Djamena south towards Cameroon on 16 January to help fight Nigeria’s dreaded Boko Haram insurgents.
The convoy, seen by an AFP journalist, roared out of the city after Chad’s parliament voted to send armed forces to Cameroon and Nigeria to fight against the Islamists.
It is rumored to be eventually heading to Baga, the town on the shores of Lake Chad were as many as 2,000 people were massacred by the militants in a raid on January 7 described by US Secretary of State John Kerry as a “crime against humanity”.”
Cameroon is now on the precipice of receiving substantial military assistance not only from Chad, but also from the US and Russia.
Of note, both the US and Russian Ambassadors to Cameroon announced on January 15 separate offers to provide equipment and training to Cameroonian soldiers.
Nikolay Ratsiborinski, the Russian Ambassador to Cameroon, pledged that Russia would provide Cameroonian Armed Forces with “the most modern and state-of-the-art Russian equipment” and offered to train Cameroonian army officers in Russia, according to CRTV. Michael Stephen Hoza, the US Ambassador to Cameroon, also pledged that the US would provide equipment and training to Cameroonian soldiers.
Boko Haram, which has substantially increased its battlefield atrocities in recent months, might finally be facing a robust regional military threat, one that will presumably soon be supported by the international community. [See Long War Journal report, Boko Haram continues to slaughter Nigerians.]
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