South Africa has rejected reports claiming the country would send troops to Nigeria to aid the army in the current fight against Boko Haram terrorists. The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) slammed the claims as "reckless and unfortunate."
Reports of an alleged military collaboration between the two countries emerged as South African president Jacob Zuma concluded his two-day official visit in Nigeria, during which he held meetings with his counterpart, Muhammadu Buhari.
The Kenyan news site Daily Nation claimed on 9 March that Nigeria's Defence minister Mansur Dan-Ali and his South African counterpart Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula met in Nigeria's capital Abuja to "finalise modalities for the special forces deployment."
Who are Nigeria's Boko Haram terrorists?
Boko Haram, which has renamed itself Iswap, fights against Western influence in Nigeria and aims to impose its version of Sharia law throughout occupied territories.
Boko Haram carries out attacks in Nigeria and neighbouring countries in a bid to take control of more territory. Three Nigerian states − Adamawa, Borno and Yobe − have been under a state of emergency since May 2013.
Boko Haram has killed 20,000 people since 2009 and was deemed the world's deadliest terror group, surpassing its ally, Islamic State (Isis), in November 2015.
Nigeria has become the world's third most terrorised country as a result of the group's violent insurgency.
A statement by the SANDF confirmed that bilateral talks between the ministers occurred in Abuja, but added: "South Africa has military-to-military relations across the continent and beyond. Once again, the Chief of SANDF wishes to strongly reiterate that there is no such a decision to send any military elements to assist with the fight against Boko Haram."
Zuma, who is returning to South Africa, said during a speech to the National Assembly in Abuja: "Our hearts and prayers are always with the Chibok Girls who were abducted from their dormitories in April 2014 by the terrorist group Boko Haram here in Nigeria. We remain hopeful and trust that your efforts to find and rescue those children will bear positive results."
In Ferbuary 2015, the SANDF issued another statement denying allegations that South Africa was sending troops to Nigeria.
The Nigerian army is currently leading a 8,700-strong regional offensive – comprising troops from Nigeria, Niger, Chad and Benin. The regional task force has resulted in the death of several militants and the recapture of key territories controlled by the terrorists.