Niamey (AFP) – Guinean President Alpha Conde pledged on Wednesday that the country is ready to help in the regional fight against Islamist militants from Boko Haram.
“We are ready to provide any assistance asked of us… in the fight against Boko Haram,” Conde told a press conference in Niger’s capital Niamey at the end of a two-day visit.
“It will depend on what our brothers (in Nigeria and neighbouring countries) ask. That’s for them to tell us what they want from us,” he added, hailing the determination of Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari to fight against the jihadist force.
Boko Haram’s bloody insurgency in Nigeria has left more than 15,000 people dead since 2009 and has increasingly spread across the country’s borders, with Chad and Cameroon suffering deadly suicide bombings in recent months.
Last week the Nigerian commander of a new multinational force set up to fight Boko Haram Islamists pledged to bring an end to their six-year insurgency “very soon”.
The force will contain troops from Nigeria, Cameroon, Niger and Chad, with Benin also committed to help.
The 8,700-strong force has its headquarters in the Chadian capital N’Djamena.
However Buhari has complained of a lack of resources, saying: “After the promises of G7 countries to help the region defeat Boko Haram, we are waiting for training, equipment and intelligence assistance.”
The jihadist group has stepped up its attacks since Buhari took office in May, unleashing a wave of violence that has claimed more than 800 lives in just two months.
“The multinational joint force will eradicate… the blind terrorism of Boko Haram,” Niger’s President Mahamadou Issoufou said in a televised speech on Sunday.
Conde stressed that “whatever the will of Niger or Chad, there must first be a strong involvement of Nigeria.”
Chad and Niger have repeatedly complained of a lack of coordination with the Nigerian army, and of having been prevented from carrying out full operations against Boko Haram within Nigerian territory.