West African Leaders Call Emergency Meeting to Discuss Mounting Threat From Extremists

West African leaders are due to meet in Ghana in an emergency summit to discuss regional security issues, including conflicts in Mali and Nigeria, the spokesman for the country’s president said.

The leaders will discuss “not just specifically Boko Haram, but also the issues of the terrorist situation and threat in Nigeria, they could be part of the whole range of issues under the banner of peace and security,” Ben Malor told the AFP news agency.

He said that the security situation in northern Mali is also among issues that will be raised during Friday’s meeting.

According to reports in the Ghanaian media, officials confirmed include Nigeria, Mali, the Ivory Coast, Senegal, Sierra leone, Niger, Togo and Burkina Faso.

The meeting in Accra is the first to be hosted by President John Mahama since he was elected chairman of the Economic Community of West African States in March.

In two of the countries attending the one-day summit – Mali and Nigeria – armed groups have been blamed for a spate of deadly violence.

Mali descended into crisis in January 2012, when Tuareg separatist National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad launched the latest in a string of Tuareg insurgencies in the north, which the national army was ill-equipped to defend.

A subsequent coup in Bamako led to chaos, and militants linked to al-Qaeda overpowered the Tuareg to seize control of Mali’s northern desert.

A French-led military operation launched in January 2013 ousted the extremists, but sporadic attacks have continued and the Tuareg demand for autonomy has not been resolved.

In Nigeria, the April 14 mass abduction of schoolgirls by the Boko Haram Islamist group in Chibok town in Nigeria’s northeast Borno state has spurred worldwide outrage and offers of military aid from foreign nations including France, Britain and China.

The United States has also deployed 80 troops to Nigeria’s neighbor Chad as part of the mission to locate the girls – some 219 of whom remain missing.

Source: aljazeera.com

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