Nigeria began withdrawing some of its 1,200 troops in Mali, yesterday, and redeploy them in security operations at home, military authorities said, Tuesday.
Nigeria has been planning the withdrawal mainly due to the need for more soldiers to fight its own homegrown Islamist insurgency.
Brigadier-General Chris Olukolade said in a statement: “The troops are mainly those not accommodated in the structures of the newly formed United Nations mission in Mail. They are to join the ongoing internal security operations.”
He did not specify how many troops would be withdrawn, saying only that an “input of sizable men and materials will continue in the UN Mission,” including a Nigeria-run military hospital.
In mid-May, President Goodluck Jonathan declared a state of emergency and launched an offensive against Nigerian Islamist sect, Boko Haram, in North-East Nigeria.
The insurgency remains active and has stretched Nigerian security forces.
Suspected Islamists killed 15 people in bomb blasts in the northern city of Kano, Tuesday.
Voters in Mali’s presidential election turned out in large numbers peacefully on Sunday, eager for a fresh start after a March 2012 coup allowed separatist and al Qaeda-linked rebels to seize the country last year.
Vote counting has been disputed and the result is likely to cause tensions.