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Nigeria appoints new head of multinational force on Boko Haram: Army

AFP , Thursday 30 Jul 2015
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Nigeria has named a general to lead the new multinational task force to fight Boko Haram Islamists, the military said on Thursday.

Major General Iliya Abbah, who previously commanded military operations in the oil-rich Niger Delta, will head the new force, Nigerian military spokesman Major General Chris Olukolade said.

The 8,700-strong Multi-National Joint Task Force, drawing in Nigeria, Niger, Chad, Cameroon and Benin, is expected to be more effective than the current alliance in the battle to end Boko Haram's six-year insurgency that has claimed some 15,000 lives.

Abbah was until his new appointment the military secretary in the army, Olukolade added.

The spokesman had said on Tuesday that the new regional force is expected to go into action very soon, but did not specify when for tactical reasons.

Boko Haram has stepped up its attacks since President Muhammadu Buhari was sworn in in May, unleashing a wave of violence that has claimed 800 lives in just two months.

The new regional force will be headquartered in Chadian capital N'Djamena, but few other details have emerged on its specific nature, raising concerns its deployment may face delays.

Buhari is currently in neighbouring Cameroon for talks on how to combat the escalating regional threat from Boko Haram Islamists.

Nigeria's presidency said Buhari's talks with Cameroonian President Paul Biya were part of his "ongoing effort to build a more effective regional coalition against Boko Haram".

The Nigerian president has already visited neighbouring Chad and Niger, which have also suffered from attacks by the Islamist fighters.

He is also expected to visit neighbouring Benin on Saturday.

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