United States has announced a $5bn contribution to the Multinational Joint Task Force, MNJTF, to boost military operations against Boko Haram insurgency.
US Assistant Secretary, Bureau of African Affairs, Ambassador Linda Thomas- Greenfield, announced this at a news briefing via telephone from the African Union, AU, Summit yesterday, as an indication of U.S interest in Africa, A News Agency of Nigeria, NAN, correspondent monitored the press briefing at the U.S. Embassy in Abuja.
“We have been working with Nigeria as well as the African countries’ innovation to address their concerns about Boko Haram because we don’t see this as just a Nigerian problem.
“We are having discussions with President Muhammadu Buhari on how we might bolster our support. We are already working with them and providing information.
“We are providing some training and support and we’ll love to work with the new administration to see how we might increase the level of support to Nigeria.
“At the same time, we’ve just announced at the venue of the AU, $5bn contribution to the Multinational Task Force. “We are also providing some equipment and support and we have a number of meetings with the countries which are members of the Multinational Joint Task Force to look at other areas we might support,” she said. Thomas-Greenfield said Africa has faced “some really horrendous terrorist attacks” over the past two years.
He cited the West Gate and Garissa University attacks in Kenya, and the Boko Haram attacks particularly, the kidnapping of the Chibok girls among others. “While I would not say Africa is under siege, Africa has some major security challenges.
“That requires a very strong and concerted strategic effort by African countries and partners to address the security concerns of Africa,” she added. According to her, the US is providing a strong support to AU on security as it has a strong partnership with the continent on security.
“We are working closely with the Lake Chad Basin countries – Nigeria, Chad, Niger and Cameroon to address the issues of Boko Haram,” Thomas-Greenfield said. She noted that US had so far trained about 250,000 African peacekeepers, adding that US’ highest priority in Africa remains security.
The envoy expressed support for the warrant of arrest issued by the International Criminal Court, ICC, against Sudan President, Omar Al-Bashir. She said the US frowns at plans by some African leaders to subvert the constitution in order to extend their terms in office, saying the US supports two-term limit in office.
Meanwhile, two suicide bombers hit Potiskum, Yobe State, yesterday, killing 12 persons, while eight others were injured. Potiskum is the commercial city of Yobe State, and it is 100 kilometres west of Damaturu, the state capital.
An eyewitness, Abubakar Isa, told our correspondent on phone from the town that the first attack was launched at the vigilante’s office located in the Dorowa area.
According to him, a suicide bomber gained access to the office and detonated the Improvised Explosive Device, IED, killing eight people.
Isa said: “A young man came to our office and we insisted that anybody that we would allow to enter must be searched and when he pretended to be opening the bag, he detonated an explosive device.”
He said the explosion killed one of the commanders of the vigilante in the town. He also disclosed that the suicide bomber came to the office of the group with a computer device.
The attack, according to him occurred at about 12:30 p.m. It was learnt that another explosion happened five minutes later at a drinking joint in the same vicinity.
Four persons, including the bomber, were killed in the explosion. Isa said the bomber walked into the drinking joint, pretending to want a drink and detonated the explosive device strapped on him.
A source at the Potiskum General Hospital, said 12 corpses were deposited at the morgue. She also revealed that eight persons who were critically injured were brought to the Accident and Emergency Unit of the hospital.
Yesterday’s suicide bombings came on a day troops killed scores of insurgents, who attacked Babbangida the headquarters of Tarmuwa Local Government Area of the state.
In an operational update yesterday, the Defence Headquarters, DHQ, in a tweet on its twitter handle, confirmed the death of the terrorists, regretting that a soldier and a vigilante also died during the fierce encounter.
DHQ said the insurgents used women and children as human shield to perpetrate the attack, It also regretted that some of its troops sustained injuries, stressing that several of the insurgents also escaped with gunshot wounds.
It however confirmed the recovery of a number of arms and ammunitions as well as other weapons and accessories from the fleeing terrorists.
“Scores of heavily armed terrorists using women and children as shield died on Sunday when they attacked Babbangida in Yobe State.
“Over 10 rifles and weapon accessories as well as hundreds of rounds of ammunition and some hand grenades were also recovered from the terrorists as some of them fled with gunshot wounds.
“One soldier and a vigilante member however died, while five were wounded during the encounter,” the DHQ said in the tweet.