African Countries Are Finally Taking a Stand Against Boko Haram

Source: Getty Images
Source: Getty Images

Africa is getting serious about stamping out Boko Haram.

On Friday, the African Union backed plans to form an army of 7,500 troops from five nations to finally defeat the malicious terrorist organization that has grown more violent the past few weeks, including slaughtering thousands of people in a small Nigerian town.

"Boko Haram's horrendous abuses, unspeakable cruelty, total disregard for human lives and wanton destruction of property are unmatched," AU commission chair Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma said in a statement, according to Al-Jazeera

She said the increasing threat posed by the Islamic extremist group needed a "collective, effective and decisive response." And it couldn't have come any sooner, since Boko Haram has stepped up its cross-border attacks in Chad and Cameroon, in addition to its advances in Nigeria. 

Troops will come from Nigeria's bordering nations, including Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Benin, to form a Multinational Joint Task Force. The army's mission would be to conduct "military operations to prevent the expansion of Boko Haram and other terrorist groups' activities and eliminate their presence," Dlamini-Zuma said, per BBC.

The plan now goes to the United Nations Security Council for approval. 

The background: Since its insurgence began six years ago, Boko Haram has killed thousands of people and seized control of the northeast portion of Nigeria, while also looting and setting fires.

Nigeria has come under criticism from other countries for not doing enough to protect itself, but claims its doing all it can to stop the threat. Its troops are in constant battle with the extremists to protect its towns, though they're always overpowered due to lack of equipment and strategy, which Boko Haram boasts in spades.

Boko Haram's massive threat continues to grow. Earlier this month, the group rampaged the eastern Nigerian town of Baga and purportedly killed up to 2,000 people and wiped towns off the map with arson. "These towns are just gone, burned down," a witness said. "The whole area is covered in bodies."

There are now reports that the group plans to use farm animals, like goats and cows, to carry out large-scale bomb attacks in Nigeria. 

Why you should care: Boko Haram's bloody rampaging, and its mission to transform Africa into an Islamic theocracy, must be stopped. So far this year, more than 7,000 people have died at their hands with a seemingly lackluster world response.

"The conflict is rapidly intensifying," said the Washington Post.  "Nigerian casualties are now running more than double those in Afghanistan, and substantially higher than in Iraq just a few years ago. An estimated 3,120 civilian and military casualties were recorded in Afghanistan last year. In Iraq, 4,207 fatalities were estimated in 2011, in the wake of the surge. The worsening conflict in northern Nigeria already has suffered more casualties this year than the world's most publicized contemporary wars."

With startling statistics like that, Boko Haram poses more of a threat than the Islamic State group in the Middle East — and it's time the world paid attention.

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Jordan Valinsky

Jordan is a writer at the Live News desk. He's previously written for The Week, Betabeat, The Daily Dot and CNN.com.

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