Saturday, January 28, 2012

Nigeria militants strike fear across Africa: UN

27 January 2012

Boko Haram militants from Nigeria are bolstering links with Al-Qaeda and other hardline groups in West Africa, according to a UN report released which highlighted the growing concerns of the region's governments.

Attacks, detentions of accused militants, seizures of explosives and arms -- many smuggled out of Libya -- have all added to the worries of Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria and their neighbors, according to a UN mission which went to the Sahel region to report on security fallout after the downfall of Moamer Kadhafi.

Fears of terrorism and poor security dominated concerns raised. The UN report said Niger had increased its defense budget by 65 percent and reduced health and education spending because of the threat.

Governments reaffirmed suspicions that weapons accumulated by Kadhafi had been smuggled into other countries by former Libyan soldiers and mercenaries.

The report said Niger authorities recently intercepted a convoy carrying 645 kilograms (1,420 pounds) of Semtex plastic explosive and 445 detonators. Niger authorities "alleged that the explosives were meant for Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb camps in northern Mali.

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