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Nigeria sends first troops to Mali, charges that Mali Islamists trained Nigerian terrorists

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    Nigeria battalion 1, troops for African led international support mission to Mali are seen before their departure at the peace keeping centre in Jaji, Kaduna, Nigeria, Thursday, Jan. 17, 2012. (AP Photo/)The Associated Press

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    LT. Gen. Onyeabo Azubike Ihejirika, Nigeria chief of Army Staff, addresses Nigeria battalion 1 troops, part of the African led international support mission to Mali, prior to their departure at the peace keeping center in Jaji, Kaduna, Nigeria, Thursday, Jan. 17, 2013. The Federal Government has approved the immediate deployment of 900 troops as part of the ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States ) force to push for the emancipation of Northern Mali from the grip of Islamists. (AP Photo)The Associated Press

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    Nigeria battalion 1 troops, part of the African led international support mission to Mali sing before their departure, at the peace keeping centre in Jaji, Kaduna, Nigeria, Thursday, Jan. 17, 2013. The Federal Government has approved the immediate deployment of 900 troops as part of the ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States ) force to push for the emancipation of Northern Mali from the grip of Islamists. (AP Photo)The Associated Press

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    Maj. Gen. Kenneth Osuji, commander of the Nigeria Army peace keeping center, left, Maj. Gen. John Zaruwa, commander of the Nigeria peace keeping center, and Lt. Gen. Onyeabo Azubike Ihejirika, Nigeria chief of army staff, right, inspect Nigeria battalion 1 troops before their departure, at the peace keeping center in Jaji, Kaduna, Nigeria, Thursday, Jan. 17, 2013. The Federal Government has approved the immediate deployment of 900 troops as part of the ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States ) force to push for the emancipation of Northern Mali from the grip of Islamists. (AP Photo)The Associated Press

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    Nigeria battalion 1 troops, part of the African led international support mission to Mali are seen before their departure, at the peace keeping centre in Jaji, Kaduna, Nigeria, Thursday, Jan. 17, 2013. The Federal Government has approved the immediate deployment of 900 troops as part of the ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States ) force to push for the emancipation of Northern Mali from the grip of Islamists. (AP Photo)The Associated Press

A top Nigerian military officer says that Mali's Islamist extremist rebels trained Nigeria's Boko Haram terrorists.

Lt. Gen. Onyeabo Azubike Ihejerika, speaking at the departure of Nigerian troops for Mali, said that Nigeria is sending troops as part of its efforts to stabilize and bring peace to the region.

About 100 Nigerian soldiers left Thursday from Kaduna airport, the first contingent of the 900 troops that Nigeria has pledged to Mali.

Ihejerika said Nigeria's mission to Mali will complement the efforts to bring about peace in Nigeria. Ihejerika said Nigeria has "evidence that some of the terrorists operating in Nigeria today were trained in Mali." Nigeria's Boko Haram Islamist extremists are blamed for attacks that killed more than 780 people last year.