CAMEROON, Chad, April 21 (UPI) -- U.S. and Nigerian military officials said an increase in collaboration between the Islamic State and the Islamist terrorist group Boko Haram is "cause for alarm" for a wide swath of north and central Africa.
Brig. Gen. Donald Bolduc, commander of the United States military's Special Operations Command in Africa, said an IS weapons convoy from Libya, intercepted while traveling to the Lake Chad region, suggests a growing link between the two groups. Nigerian Gen. Lamidi Oyebayo Adeosun, commander of a joint African force battling Boko Haram in the Lake Chad area, echoed Bolduc's concerns, saying officials are attempting to learn more about the relationship. Last year, the Boko Haram pledged allegiance to IS, also known as ISIS, ISIL and Daesh.
"The Lake Chad basin is ground zero" in the fight against Islamic extremists in Africa, Bolduc said. He said IS and Boko Haram are sharing "tactics, techniques and procedures" in the Lake Chad region, which includes northeast Nigeria, and parts of Niger, Chad and Cameroon.
The information comes during ongoing meetings between Samantha Power, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, and top Chadian officials, including President Idriss Deby. On Wednesday, Power announced $40 million in humanitarian aid for those affected by Boko Haram violence, bringing the total to $237 million over two years.
In November,Nigeria's defense minister predicted Boko Haram would be defeated in three months. Clearance operations by Nigerian and Cameroonian troops in recent weeks have succeeded in freeing 2,000 Boko Haram hostages, and forcing the group to retreat from many villages in northern Nigeria.
Power is traveling the Lake Chad basin through April 23 as American Special Operations forces continue to train and advise African fighters in their fight against Boko Haram, al-Qaida branch groups and now IS.
"Boko Haram is one of the deadliest terrorist groups in the world. It poses an acute threat to civilians across the Lake Chad Basin, and the group's increasing lethality and relationship with ISIL are cause for alarm," officials said.