NEWS

Canadian forces set to train near site of Boko Haram attacks

02/11/2015 01:40 EST | Updated 04/13/2015 05:59 EDT
Canadian special forces are set to take part in a multi-country military training exercise in a part of Western Africa that continues to see attacks by the Islamic militant group Boko Haram.

Canada's Department of National Defence says the soldiers will not fight Boko Haram, but it's not clear what would happen should they encounter the militants during training exercises, which start Monday in Diffa, Niger.

A slate of Western nations are set to participate in a series of "U.S.-sponsored, African-led" military training exercises known as Flintlock. This year's exercises will be based in Chad and Niger.

Daniel LeBouthillier, a spokesman for DND, said in an email that Canadian troops are "not fighting Boko Haram in the town of Diffa," but rather participating in the Flintlock exercise.

LeBouthillier did not immediately respond to questions about what Canada's troops would do if they encounter Boko Haram forces in the course of the exercise in Diffa.

Diffa, a region near Niger's border with Nigeria and Chad, has been the site of recent attacks by the militant group and is now under a 15-day state of emergency. Reuters is reporting that two female bombers blew themselves up Wednesday in Diffa, citing two security sources.

More than 1,200 personnel will be involved in the Flintlock exercise, with participants from Burkina Faso, Denmark, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Mauritania, the Netherlands, Belgium, Sweden, Norway, Senegal, Spain, the U.K., Mali, Czech Republic, Estonia, Lithuania and the United States.

Canadian Forces personnel are also involved in training Iraqi and Kurdish forces battling Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) fighters in Iraq. The military has said the Canadian special forces have returned fire with ISIS on three occasions, forcing the government to address opposition questions over "mission creep."

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