Niger, Nigeria Step Up Cooperation Against Boko Haram

Niger, Nigeria Step Up Cooperation Against Boko Haram

On Oct. 18, the foreign ministers of Niger and Nigeria signed a defense pact in Niger's capital, Niamey, establishing joint border patrols along their 930-mile border. The pact also envisions infrastructure projects, including road construction and potential rail links to connect the two countries, as well as renewed efforts to re-demarcate the border. President Mahamadou Issoufou of Niger announced the deal in a French-language Twitter post on Oct. 24, declaring that, from now on, "whoever attacks Niger, attacks Nigeria."

In the communiqué launching the pact, both countries' heads of state, Issoufou and Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, expressed their concern about the danger posed to the subregion by international terrorism, "namely al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, Boko Haram and other weapons- and drug-trafficking criminal organizations that constitute a significant threat to the peace and stability within the whole of the West African region."

The conclusion of the defense pact took on heightened urgency amid fears that Boko Haram militants in northern Nigeria are crossing over into southern Niger to escape the Nigerian security forces' crackdown on the group. Under Operation Restore Sanity, launched in September, Nigerian security forces conducted a series of night raids and house-to-house searches in major northern cities, uncovering weapons and ammunition stockpiles, arresting more than 200 Boko Haram members and capturing or killing five high-ranking commanders.

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