The U.S. is cutting short a training program for Nigerian soldiers following a request by the West African nation’s government less than a month after Washington said it refused to sell the country Cobra attack helicopters.
“At the request of the Nigerian government, the United States will discontinue its training of a Nigerian Army battalion,” the U.S. Embassy in the capital, Abuja, said in an e-mailed statement. The program was designed to help Nigeria battle the Islamist militant group Boko Haram.
The U.S. turned down the helicopter request “due to concerns about Nigeria’s ability to use and maintain this type of helicopter in its effort against Boko Haram and ongoing concerns about the Nigerian military’s protection of civilians when conducting military operations,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in Washington on Nov. 12.
Nigeria’s military, under the leadership of President Goodluck Jonathan, is struggling to deal with intensifying attacks by the Islamist militant group Boko Haram.The insurgents have killed more than 13,000 people since 2009, according to Jonathan. Suspected Boko Haram members carried out two attacks on cities in Nigeria’s northeast today, killing at least five people.
“We regret premature termination of this training, as it was to be the first in a larger planned project that would have trained additional units with the goal of helping the Nigerian Army build capacity to counter Boko Haram,” the embassy said.