— President Obama on Wednesday said he had ordered 300 troops to Cameroon
to work with West African soldiers seeking to counter the Nigerian extremist group Boko Haram.
In a letter to Congress, Mr. Obama said that the troops would provide “intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance” in the region. The White House press secretary, Josh Earnest, said that the troops would be armed for their protection but that they would not engage in combat.
Mr. Obama said that an advance force of about 90 military personnel had begun deploying to Cameroon, which borders Nigeria
, on Monday. Administration officials said that unarmed Predator drones would be sent with the troops, who will aid a multinational task force composed of soldiers from Cameroon, Chad, Benin
, Niger and Nigeria.
The United States
has been providing training and equipment to Nigerian forces as part of the effort to defeat Boko Haram. Fighters with the Islamist militant group have displaced entire villages in Nigeria, Chad, Niger and Cameroon. Amnesty International has estimated that violence by Boko Haram has left at least 17,000 people dead since 2009, when the insurgency began.
Unicef said last month that fear of attacks by the group had uprooted half a million children in the preceding five months, bringing the total number of children displaced by Boko Haram in Nigeria and neighboring countries to 1.4 million.
Boko Haram, which is seeking to establish a caliphate, has allied itself with the Islamic State, but it is unclear whether the groups have coordinated their attacks.
The Associated Press reported that three bombs exploded on Tuesday in the northeastern Nigerian city of Maiduguri
, killing at least seven people. The authorities blamed Boko Haram for the attacks.