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Central African states pledge support for force to crush Bokom Haram

• President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo addressing the press. With him are President Mahama and President Dennis Sassou-N’guesso of Congo.

The Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) says it has begun pooling resources  — human, material and financial — to support the four-nation force to crush the Islamist militant group, Boko Haram.

"We want to do everything within our means to support efforts by ECOWAS to crush the militants," President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo of Equatorial Guinea said.

Mr Obiang said this at a press briefing after he and President Dennis Sassou-N’guesso of Congo had held discussions with President John Dramani Mahama, the ECOWAS Chairman, at the Peduase Lodge in the Eastern Region yesterday.

Equatorial Guinea and Congo are members of ECCAS, a sub-regional bloc which also includes Chad, Gabon, Cameroon and the Central African Republic.

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Focus of meeting 

The meeting focused on the fight against Boko Haram in Nigeria and the ongoing collaboration between ECOWAS and ECCAS to deal with the problem.

The visiting Presidents were mandated by their sub-regional group to brief the ECOWAS Chairman on decisions reached by ECCAS at its last meeting in Yaounde, Cameroun, on February 16, this year.

It was also intended to discuss further strategies and common issues with Mr Mahama

President Obiang said ECCAS recognised the seriousness of the Boko Haram threat to the stability of Nigeria, as well as the entire Central African sub-region.

Countering Boko Haram 

The terrorist group, which initially operated within north-eastern Nigeria, has expanded its attacks to neighbouring Niger, Chad and Cameroon.

The African Union (AU), at its last meeting in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, approved a 7,500-strong multinational force to fight the Islamists.

Since then, Nigerian, Chadian, Cameroonian and Nigerien forces have gone on the offensive against the insurgent group, taking over swathes of territories from the militants.

Last week, Nigerian ground forces, supported by air strikes, seized the strategic north-eastern border town of Baga from the Islamist group, during which the Nigerian military said about 140 members of the terrorist group were killed.