Leaders from five African countries collectively declared "war" against Boko Haram today at a summit in Paris.
Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, and his counterparts from Chad, Niger, Cameroon and Benin attended the meeting hosted by French President Francois Hollande to develop a "global and regional action plan," the BBC reported.
The talks come on the heels of ongoing attacks in the region and a month after the terrorist group kidnapped more than 200 schoolgirls from a remote part of Eastern Nigeria.
During the talks, Cameroon President Paul Biya reportedly said "We are here to declare war on Boko Haram," while Chad's Idriss Deby reinforced the threat, saying it would be "total war."
Intelligence officials from the US, UK and European Union also attended the working lunch.
Hollande painted Boko Haram as a highly-trained Islamist terror network, armed with money from unknown sources and sophisticated weaponry, the Associated Press reported.
He also said its recruitment of soldiers and training in neighboring countries and links to other terror organizations including al Qaeda, made the group an international threat.
"Boko Haram's strategy, contrary to all civilization, is to destabilize Nigeria and to destroy the fundamental principles of human dignity," Hollande said during the summit. "More than 200 young girls threatened with slavery is the proof."
Nigeria's northeast region, where Boko Haram is based, and where the 276 girls were kidnapped on April 14 from their school in Chibok in the state of Borno, has suffered more than 1,500 civilian deaths amid increasing violence and assaults by the organization in the past five years, according to Amnesty International.
On May 9, Amnesty International reported that Nigerian security forces failed to act on advance warnings about Boko Haram’s armed raid on the state-run boarding school in Chibok.
Jonathan, who had for years maintained Boko Haram was a local problem, only recently accepted international help in tackling the increasing violence and deadly assaults by the organization in recent years.
More than 3,000 people in total have been killed since the terror group has sought to impose an Islamic state in the region, which is predominantly Muslim, French media reported.
Earlier this week, Boko Haram released a video purporting showing roughly 100 of the both Christian and Muslim girls that have not yet reportedly been sold into slavery, 45 of which has been identified by friends and family members so far.
A new video released by the Islamist group Boko Haram on May 12 claims to show a number of the girls kidnapped by Boko Haram from the town of Chibok in Borno State in April.
The kidnapping and hostage situation has sparked a global campaign #BringBackOurGirls, while Boko Haram has offered to release the girls in exchange for imprisoned insurgents.
British authorities said Jonathan has refused to yield to demands of an exchange, the AP reported.
Brother and sister Chisom and Nonso on May 6 joined the mass global calls for the release of more than 200 Nigerian schoolgirls.
But the violence is not limited to Nigerian borders.
In neighboring Cameroon, an attack suspected at the hands of the terror group left one dead and 10 missing at a camp belonging to a Chinese engineering firm. The incident took place hours before the Paris summit on Friday evening.
Hollande said that a joint intelligence effort involving shared information, border protection and cooperation to ensure swift responses to attacks were necessary to battle Boko Haram and locate the missing girls.
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