West African leaders met with the French President, British Foreign Minister and EU and US representatives in Paris on Saturday to discuss the threat from Boko Haram Islamists, after they abducted more than 200 schoolgirls in Nigeria.
The leaders of Nigeria, Niger, Cameroon, Chad and Benin said they were ready to fight a war against the extremists.
Chad’s President Idriss Deby said: “There is determination to tackle this situation head on … to launch a war, a total war on Boko Haram.”
Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan declared the group was now part of Al Qaeda.
“Boko Haram is no longer the local terror group with some religious sentiment that started in Nigeria in 2002 to 2009. From 2009 to date it has changed and is operating clearly as an Al Qaeda organisation, it can better be described as Al Qaeda in West and Central Africa,” Jonathan stated.
French President François Hollande called Boko Haram a “major threat to West and Central Africa” and outlined a regional plan to counter them.
“Intelligence coordination, exchanging information, central coordination of our military capacity, monitoring borders, a military presence, especially around Lake Chad, and an ability to intervene as soon as there is danger. Let me say that there is no need for France to deploy military units, they are already present in the region,” Hollande told a press conference immediately after the Paris Summit.
It’s now over a month since 223 girls, a mixture of Christians and Muslims, were seized from their school hostel in the north-east Nigerian town of Chibok.