Boko Haram Captures Army BaseJanuary 5, 2015 in Nigeria
Officials confirmed Sunday that the militant group Boko Haram has seized control of a town and key multinational military base in northeastern Nigeria, in what appears to be the latest advance by the group to create an Islamic State.
A senator in Borno state confirmed Sunday that troops had abandoned the base, which is located in the town of Baga, after militants attacked the town on Saturday. Residents of Baga, who fled by boat to neighbouring Chad, have disclosed that many people were killed in the attack, adding that the town was later set ablaze. Several residents reported that they had woken to heavy gunfire as militants stormed Baga early on Saturday, attacking from all directions. Some eyewitnesses disclosed that they had decided to flee after seeing the multi-national troops deserting their posts. Communications with the town remain cut off and exact information about casualty numbers have not been confirmed.
Boko Haram’s takeover of Baga is significant as the town, which was the scene of a Nigerian army massacre in 2013, was the last in the Borno North area still under the government’s control. The town also hosted the base of the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF), which is composed of troops from Nigeria and neighbouring Chad and Niger. Sources have confirmed that the base is now under Boko Haram’s control. The MNJTF was set up in 1998 and tasked to fight trans-border crime in the Lake Chad region. Most recently, the task force was charged with combatting Boko Haram.
Over the past month, Boko Haram has intensified its attacks on towns and villages, carrying out almost daily attacks. The militant group has also launched several mass kidnappings, taking captive hundreds, including young boys and girls. Many believe that the militant group is attempting to replenish its ranks as its aims to solidify its grip on the areas of northeastern Nigerian already under its control. The Nigerian military, which includes Western advisers and surveillance, has been incapable of dealing with the growing problem, which is now rapidly transforming into a region-wide threat. Nigeria’s home-grown Boko Haram group has begun regionalizing the conflict, launching a several attacks across the border into Cameroon in recent weeks.