Nigeria's Neighbors to Tighten Net Around Boko Haram

Image: Abubakar Shekau, center, the suspected leader of Nigerian Islamist extremist group Boko Haram
Abubakar Shekau, center, the suspected leader of Nigerian Islamist extremist group Boko Haram, flanked by two armed and hooded fighters in a video distributed to Nigerian journalists and obtained by AFP on March 5, 2013.AFP - Getty Images, file

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British Foreign Secretary William Hague announced new measures agreed upon by Nigeria’s neighbors, along with the United States, Britain and France, to defeat the militant group Boko Haram and find the more than 200 girls they are holding hostage.

Benin, Chad, Cameroon and Niger have agreed to help by pooling intelligence and forming a task force to better enforce their shared borders and shut down all escape routes for the militant group. This task force will be activated immediately.

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“Together we have taken important steps to try and find the schoolgirls and increase pressure on Boko Haram — from new sanctions to practical,” Hague said.

The announcement was made on the sideline's of this week's London conference to end sexual violence in war.

Hague also announced that the U.K., U.S. and France will give advice and offer support on how to deal with Boko Haram, further assist in regional intelligence by providing technical support and offer enhanced tactical training for Nigeria’s army.

The representatives from the participating countries also discussed a plan to boost the education program and provide schooling for one million girls and boys.

Hague acknowledged that defeating the militant group will be “a long and difficult” task.

— Carol Grisanti