Summit focuses on Boko Haram funds, arms, training

PARIS — Boko Haram has ample funds, highly sophisticated weaponry, and advanced training with some of the world’s most experienced terrorists, the French president said Saturday as he and African leaders grappled with how to combat the Islamic extremist group.

The summit was intended to forge a plan to free 276 schoolgirls being held hostage by Boko Haram.

Intelligence officials from the United States, Europe, and Africa shared information at the meeting, while heads of state and top diplomats tackled policy.


Hours after two more attacks in Boko Haram strongholds — one in Nigeria that left a village torched and 40 people dead and another in Cameroon — the leaders agreed to improve policing of frontiers, share intelligence, and trace the weapons and cash that are the group’s lifeblood.

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‘‘This group is armed with heavy weapons of an unimaginable sophistication and the ability to use them,’’ said President Francois Hollande of France.

He said the weapons came from chaotic Libya, and the training took place in Mali before the ouster of its Al Qaeda-linked Islamist leaders. As for the money, Hollande said its origins were murky.

‘‘Boko Haram is acting clearly as an Al Qaeda operation,’’ said President Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria, who had only reluctantly accepted outside help after years of insisting the group was a local problem.

Cameroon has become increasingly involved. The attack late Friday against a Chinese engineering firm’s camp left at least 10 people missing and one person dead.


The camp was in the same nearly trackless parkland where the girls were first spirited away after an attack on their school in northern Nigeria.

Hollande said the effort to combat Boko Haram will involve sharing intelligence, protecting borders, and quick action in a crisis.

An intelligence cell involving French, British, and American agents is already operating in Nigeria.