Boko Haram crisis: Niger to send troops to Nigeria

Niger's soldiers on 22 January 2013 at a training camp near Ouallam, Image copyright AFP
Image caption Niger is expected to contribute 750 soldiers towards a regional force

Niger's parliament has voted to send troops to Nigeria to join the fight against militant Islamist group Boko Haram.

The vote took place after Boko Haram attacked a prison and detonated a car bomb on Monday in the town of Diffa, near Niger's border with Nigeria.

MPs said parliament unanimously authorised deploying 750 soldiers with a regional force battling Boko Haram.

The Boko Haram has increasingly drawn in Nigeria's neighbours.

On Saturday Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Benin agreed to establish a 7,800-strong force to fight the group.

Boko Haram launched its first attacks in Niger last week, and has vowed to create an Islamic state.

'Motorcycles banned'

Niger's President Mahamadou Issoufou, a Muslim, vowed to defeat Boko Haram.

"All the Nigeriens know that these guys are not Muslims. On the contrary, what they are doing is not helping Islam," he said.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Chad has already deployed troops to Nigeria
Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Women who escaped a 2014 Boko Haram attack in Nigeria's Adamawa state are now staying at a camp for displaced people

The BBC's Baro Arzika in the capital, Niamey, says many people are concerned about the growing threat posed by Boko Haram.

The authorities have imposed an overnight curfew in Diffa and have banned the use of motorcycles, a common mode of transport, to prevent infiltration by the militants, he says.

A journalist in Diffa told AFP news agency that at least one person was killed and 15 wounded in Monday's bomb blast at a market.

Suspected Boko Haram militants also hijacked a bus in northern Cameroon, abducting at least 20 people, residents said.

The bus was seized near the border area of Koza and driven towards the border with Nigeria, some 18km (11 miles) away, a resident told the Associated Press news agency.

The conflict has forced a postponement of Nigeria's presidential and parliamentary elections from 14 February to 28 March.

At least 3.2 million people have been displaced by the insurgency, launched in north-eastern Nigeria in 2009, Nigerian officials say.