Daily Trust (Abuja)

25 January 2013

Nigeria Is Main Target of Mali Rebels - Minister

Foreign Affairs Minister Olugbenga Ashiru yesterday said Nigeria was the main target of insurgents that captured the northern Mali.

Nigerian soldiers are among foreign troops in Mali fighting Al Qaeda-linked insurgents.

Speaking yesterday in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Ashiru said Nigeria had to send troops to Mali to prevent the insurgents from spreading to the country.

He said "the events in Mali, if we don't quickly stop it, it will have effect on the whole of West Africa and Nigeria is there prime target. So, we need to act quickly, forcefully in Mali to stop them, to contain them, to destroy their capability to be able to launch any counter offensive within the sub region."

Ashiru expressed gratitude to France for its intervention in Mali, saying: "Africans must now take charge henceforth to ensure that we safeguard the territorial integrity of Mali and to make sure that we are able to stop the terrorists from advancing further because they are a threat, not just to Mali but to Nigeria and all countries in the sub region."

He said the troops in Mali will soon advance from central part of the country to curtail the terrorists in the northern part.

The minister said criminals, armed gangs and terrorists will not be allowed to form a sanctuary in any part of the West African sub region.

"When you compare our intervention in Sierra Leone, in Liberia to our intervention in Mali today, the intervention in Mali today is to ensure the survival of Nigeria," he said.

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