West African leaders have agreed to work together to wage “total war” on Boko Haram, saying the Nigerian Islamist group had become a regional Al Qaeda that threatened them all.
Nigeria, its neighbours – Chad, Cameroon, Niger and Benin – and Western officials met in Paris to flesh out a plan enabling them for the first time to share intelligence, coordinate action and monitor borders.
It comes as a suspected Boko Haram attack was carried out on a Chinese work site in northern Cameroon, killing at least one Cameroonian soldier with 10 others feared kidnapped.
Although Boko Haram has been fighting for five years, carrying out bombings and attacks on civilians and security forces, the kidnapping last month of more than 200 schoolgirls in the north-east has focused world attention on them.
Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan says Boko Haram is no longer a local threat, but has become West Africa’s Al Qaeda.