This Day (Lagos)

28 February 2013

Nigeria: Troops Deployment to Mali Completed

Nigeria has completed the deployment of troops to the international military coalition raised under the auspices of the African-led International Support Mission to Mali (AFISMA) to dislodge Islamist sectarians from Mali.

According to the Defence Headquarters (DHQ), with the latest deployment of another 162 personnel, the total number of members of the nation's armed forces in Mali is now 1,200 as promised by the Federal Government.

The Director of Defence Information (DDI), Col Mohammed Yerima, gave the update Wednesday in Abuja at a press briefing on the activities of the troops deployed for peacekeeping and enforcement in Northern Mali.

The army, in a related development, said in the last one month it had trained over 2,000 soldiers for counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency (CT COIN) to tackle the insecurity foisted on the nation by the campaign by Boko Haram.

Yerima said the 162 troops that departed the country for Mali yesterday were the last of Nigeria's contingent to AFISMA.

He explained that the troops would be airlifted by the Nigerian Air Force, while the Charlie (C-130) aircraft provided by the British government was equally scheduled to airlift support equipment to the operation, side by side the DHQ's C-130.

Yerima also spoke on the manhunt for some Boko Haram members who kidnapped seven French citizens from Cameroun and the demand by their abductors that they would release the hostages if the Federal Government released the wives and female relatives of the Islamist group in the custody of security agencies.

"If the Boko Haram group wishes to express concern about their members being held, they ought to have channelled their demands through the JTF telephone help lines which they are conversant with," he said.

The army said yesterday that in the last one month it had trained over 2,000 soldiers for counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency in line with the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt-Gen. Azubuike Ihejirika's vision to transform the service into a better force, able to meet contemporary challenges.

The Director of Army Public Relations (DAPR), Brig-Gen. Ibrahim Attahiru, said at a news conference in Abuja that the six-week training covered aspects of house breaking and clearing, urban patrol, unarmed combat, skills at arms, and international humanitarian law, among others.

Attahiru noted that the army introduced the CT COIN training for all officers of the rank of major and below in line with its new strategy to increase combat efficiency.

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