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US Drones Commence Surveillance Operation Over Sambisa Forest

Valentine Chinyem

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Troops deployed by the United States of America, yesterday commenced drones surveillance over Sambisa forest in Borno State, Nigeria.

According to report by Leadership Newspapers, some Boko Haram militants were spotted by the drones in the forest.

It would be recalled that President Barack Obama, had on Thursday last week, asked the US congress for approval to deploy US troops to Cameroon, for surveillance and intelligence gathering. The troop numbering about 300, will bolster regional forces effort to clear the region of terrorists activities.

The Sambisa forest is the major stronghold of the notorious Boko Haram sect, where they have launched series of attacks on the Lake Chad Basin Countries in recent times. However, they were displaced by Nigerian forces who stormed the forest in 2015. It will be recalled that over 200 women and children were rescued from the operation.

Mr. Garba Shehu, the Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, to President Muhammadu Buharice, on the wake of the announcement by President Obama, described it as a welcomed development.

“The United States has given the pledge to support the fight against Boko Haram in Nigeria and in the region,” Shehu had told AFP by telephone.

“This is the fulfilment of that pledge and we are very happy about it. The United States’ move is quite commendable.”

Also, spokesman of the military, Colonel Rabe Abubakar added, “this is how the fight can be done collectively with partners cooperating with us to fight against a common cause – terrorism – which has been ravaging the region for some time now.”

Cameroon’s President, Paul Biya hailed the US deployment as a “precious contribution” to the fight against the Islamists, who have increased their attacks against civilians using suicide bombers in border areas of Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad and Niger.

Yesterday’s sighting of the insurgents was an indication that the effort was already yielding result.

Also, according to a US official who confirmed the deployment: “These forces are equipped with weapons for the purpose of providing their own force protection and security, and they will remain in Cameroon until their support is no longer needed.”

The White House said the move was not in response to any changed assessment of threat in the region. The US has no combat troops in Africa, but has been increasing support to allies battling Boko Haram in the region.

The drone base in Cameroon will be the thirteenth surveillance base established by the United States on the African continent. In West Africa, there are U.S. surveillance facilities in Burkina Faso, Chad, Niger, and now Cameroon.