Southern African leaders agree to send troops to Mozambique

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JOHANNESBURG (AP) — A summit of southern African leaders has agreed to send a regional military force to Mozambique to help that country battle its growing crisis caused by a jihadi insurgency.

Leaders of the 16-nation Southern African Development Community agreed Wednesday to deploy a military force to help the Mozambican government “combat terrorism and acts of violent extremism.”

The Islamic extremists' violent campaign in Mozambique's northern province of Cabo Delgado has caused a rapidly escalating humanitarian crisis. The jihadi violence is blamed for the deaths of more than 2,000 people and has caused more than 700,000 to flee their homes.

The brief statement, issued after a summit in Mozambique's capital of Maputo, did not give details on the size of the force or when troops would be sent. Earlier this year military experts from the group recommended that the regional body send in about 3,500 soldiers, with arms, helicopters, airplanes and naval capacity.

The statement also urged that humanitarian assistance be given in northern Mozambique where nearly 1 million people need food aid, according to the U.N. World Food Program.

Mozambique will establish a headquarters in the northern port city of Nacala for the regional force.

Andrew Meldrum, The Associated Press

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