23 January 2013

Nigeria to Keep Troops in Mali Until Resolution of Crisis

Geneva — Nigerian troops will remain in Mali till the crisis is over, President Goodluck Jonathan has said.

President Jonathan, who spoke to reporters in Geneva, yesterday, said the country's troops would stay back in the crisis-ridden country until elections there are over.

Meanwhile, Nigeria has boosted security on its borders in anticipation of increased attacks by Boko Haram militants after it sent troops to help expel Islamists from northern Mali, a military spokesman said.

"If they are part of al-Qaeda in the Maghreb, if they are in support of the northern Mali crisis, there is every possibility that they will heighten their attacks," Colonel Mohammed Yerima, Director of Information at Nigeria's Defence Ministry, said yesterday in Abuja. "On our own side, we're strategizing on how to counter them," he added.

Nigeria plans to deploy up to 1,200 troops as part of a West African intervention force to support French and Malian troops battling Islamist militants in the Sahara desert.

Allied French and West African forces are seeking to drive the rebels out of northern Mali, which the rebels seized from government forces after a coup last year left a power vacuum.

"We cannot pull out until we have solved the problem. I cannot tell you when we will solve the problem, but Nigeria is totally committed and we remain committed until the crisis is resolved," Jonathan told Reuters in an interview in Geneva.

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