Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull travelled to Iraq and Afghanistan to meet with Australian troops stationed there ahead of Anzac Day. ABC reported that Turnbull also met with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi in Baghdad, and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and US Secretary of Defence James Mattis in Kabul. Australian troops are currently providing training and logistical support for Iraqi forces fighting in Mosul. Credit: Malcolm Turnbull via Storyful
AUSTRALIAN troops have been training African soldiers to fight Boko Haram, the Islamic militant group responsible for a rein of terror in Nigeria.
Australian special forces took part in a three-week training stint in Niger, US military confirmed to The Australian.
The training exercises, dubbed Flintlock, took place in late February at a military camp at Diffa, a town in Niger’s southeast near the border with Nigeria and in a region under threat from the terrorist group.
Boko Haram fighters armed with rocket-propelled grenades, mortars and machine guns last month attacked a village about 30km from Diffa. Niger troops fought back, killing 57 of the militants. In total 15 soldiers and two civilians were also wounded in the battle.
Meanwhile, Boko Haram jihadists were behind the killing of six farmers who were shot while working on their land near the northeastern Nigerian city of Maiduguri.
Gunmen on motorcycles attacked a group preparing fields for the rainy season outside the village of Amrawa, 16km from the Borno State capital, on Saturday.
A coalition of African military forces has been attempting to fight Boko Haram, notorious for its kidnapping of nearly 300 schoolgirls.
The Defence Department had avoided an official announcement about the Diggers presence in Niger until questioned by The Australian yesterday, the paper reported. This is despite the US and Canada making public statements about their own soldiers’ role.
A Defence Department spokesman said it was the second time Australian troops had taken part in the Flintlock exercises.
He described it as being “part of our regular international training engagements”.
“Such engagements allow the participants to broaden their professional experience and knowledge,’’ he said.
Boko Haram are trying to carve out an Islamic state around the Lake Chad region where Nigeria, Cameroon, Niger and Chad meet.
The group, whose name loosely translates as “Western education is forbidden”, made international headlines in 2010 with the kidnapping of 276 girls from Chibok, a town in Nigeria’s northeast. Boko Haram this month released 82 of the kidnapped girls.
The full version of this story was published by The Australian