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Nigerian troops to remain in Mali until end of crises, Jonathan

By The Citizen
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President Goodluck Jonathan yesterday said Nigerian troops would remain in Northern Mali until the crisis in the troubled West African nation is resolved and a democratically elected government is in place.

The President spoke from Geneva, Switzerland.
'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,' he told Reuters in Geneva.

It began the reinforcement of security on its borders with neighbouring countries

The measure, according to the Director of Information at the Defence Ministry, Col. Mohammed Yerima, is in anticipation of increased attacks by the fundamentalists in retaliation for the country's military support for Mali against Islamic insurgents.

'If they're part of al-Qaeda in the Maghreb; if they're in support of the Northern Mali crisis; there's every possibility that they will heighten their attacks,' Col Yerima said.

Col. Yerima, who spoke in Abuja, said: 'On our own side, we're strategising how to counter them.'

The Federal Government has been battling an insurgency by Boko Haram sect that has killed hundreds of people since 2009.

Boko Haram, which means 'Western education is a sin', has carried out bomb and gun attacks in almost all the states in the North and Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

Nigeria is contributing 1,200 troops to join France and soldiers from other West African countries in Mali to recapture territory lost to Islamist militants and ethnic Touareg separatists.

There are fears that the Mali crisis may spill into Nigeria and other neighbouring West African countries if not brought under control, President Goodluck Jonathan told lawmakers on January 17.

Two days after the President expressed the fear, gunmen opened fire on a convoy of Mali-bound soldiers in Kogi State January 19.

The soldiers (the first batch), were on their way to join the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Forces. Two of the troops were killed in the ambush laid for them by Ansaru, a militant group. (Guardian)