UN’s Ban Hopeful of Rapid Start of Boko Haram Fighting Force

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United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he was “hopeful” for the rapid deployment of a West African regional force to battle Islamist militants after a meeting with Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday.

“President Buhari and I discussed a full range of issues covering development, human rights, peace and security, including the cause of troubling levels of violence and terror perpetuated by Boko Haram in northeastern Nigeria and beyond,” Ban told reporters in the capital, Abuja.

Nigerian Major-General Iliya Abba will command a 8,700-strong Multinational Joint Task Force with troops from Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon, Niger and Benin to combat Boko Haram. The group has killed thousands of people and displaced more than a million in its six-year insurgency.

Buhari accepted Ban’s invitation to attend a Sept. 28 meeting of world leaders in New York to devise a new plan to combat extremism, the president’s office said in an e-mailed statement on Monday. U.S. President Barack Obama and President Francois Hollande of France will take part in the discussions.

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