Nigeria's Buhari to visit Cameroon for talks on Boko Haram

Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari, pictured during an interview with Agence France-Presse on June 14, 2015, will travel to neighbouring Cameroon to consult with counterpart Paul Biya on Boko Haram's insurgency (AFP Photo/Mujahid Safodien)
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Abuja (AFP) - Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari will travel to neighbouring Cameroon on Wednesday for talks with that country's President Paul Biya on combatting the regional threat from Boko Haram, Nigerian officials said.

"President Buhari is going to Cameroon on Wednesday. He will hold talks with President Biya on arrival on Wednesday and the issue of Boko Haram will be central in their discussion," presidential spokesman Femi Adesina told AFP.

Since his inauguration on May 29, Buhari has already visited Chad and Niger, two other neighbours of Nigeria that, like Cameroon, have been targeted in cross-border attacks by the Nigeria-based jihadists.

The visit to Cameroon "aims to build a strong regional alliance to confront Boko Haram," another spokesman for Buhari, Garba Shehu, told AFP.

Shehu declined to give details on the deployment of regional troops, but insisted it "will still be at the end of this month."

A long-awaited Multi-National Joint Task Force, was due to have been operational in November.

A new commander for the 8,700-strong fighting force is expected to be named to replace its former Nigerian leader, Major General Tukur Yusuf Buratai, who was appointed earlier this month as chief of staff of Nigeria's army.

Boko Haram attacks in Chad, Cameroon and Niger have claimed dozens of lives in the past weeks.

Heavy fighting broke out Monday between the Chadian army and Boko Haram jihadists hiding out islands in Lake Chad, security and local sources said.

"Violent clashes" took place near Baga Sola, one of the main Chadian towns in the lake that straddles Chad, Cameroon, Nigeria and Niger, a Chadian security source told AFP.

Boko Haram had earlier this month claimed responsibility for twin suicide bombings in N'Djamena that left 38 people dead, the SITE Intelligence Group reported.

Three days later, at least 15 people were killed in a suicide bomb attack at a crowded market in the Chadian capital.

Last month, military top brass from Nigeria, Niger, Chad and Cameroon, plus a high-level military official from Benin met in Abuja to thrash out plans to take on the fundamentalists, whose six-year campaign for a hardline Islamic caliphate has claimed at least 15,000 lives, mostly in north-east Nigeria.

The European Union (EU) on Monday expressed solidarity with the anti-Boko Haram campaign.

"Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria are sparing no effort in fighting terrorism in the region....The European Union supports the efforts for comprehensive bilateral and regional cooperation to tackle these challenges," the EU said.

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