US President Barack Obama is planning to deploy 300 troops to Cameroon to carry out airborne intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance operations. Congress has been notified of the efforts by Washington to counter Nigeria-based terror group, Boko Haram.
Around 90 troops were sent in advance to the central African nation on 12 October with the approval of the Cameroonian government. The personnel will be armed for self defence. "They will not be in a combat role," White House press secretary, Josh Earnest said. "They are armed, but they are armed for the purposes of force protection."
Addressing congressional leaders in a letter, Obama said: "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."
Boko Haram militants have targeted neighbouring Cameroon and Chad as it expands beyond its traditional power base in northern Nigeria. On 11 October, at least nine people were killed in Cameroon's Kangeleri Mora District when two female suicide bombers detonated their explosives. The Nigerian army has claimed that the firepower was made in France.
The incident followed five coordinated suicide bombings in Chad on 10 October, in which 36 people died and 50 others were wounded. The attack took place near Lake Chad, which is home to thousands of Nigerians who have fled Boko Haram's trail of terror.
Police in Nigeria have arrested two men in connection with coordinated bomb blasts that killed at least 18 people and left 41 injured in the capital, Abuja on 2 October. Lagos is at the helm of a new task force combatting Boko Haram. The squadron comprises some 8,700 troops from Nigeria, Niger, Chad, Cameroon and Benin.
Boko Haram launched military operations in 2009, and the group has left a bloody footprint, killing thousands and kidnapping hundreds of people, including 200 Chibok schoolgirls. Earlier this year the group, which strongly opposes western education, was forced out of parts of northeastern Nigeria where it claimed to have established a caliphate by Chadian and Nigerian forces.