Boko Haram militants captured a multinational military base near the town of Baga in Borno, Nigeria on Saturday.
According to Nigerian senator Maina Ma’aji Lawan, the insurgents were heavily armed and stormed the city, overwhelming the government troops stationed there.
Boko Haram overwhelmed the Multinational Joint Task Force and dislodged them from their base outside Baga after hours-long fighting.”
The Multinational Joint Task Force, formed in 1998 to oppose human trafficking and arms dealing, has focused its attention on fighting against the Boko Haram group. The Task Force soldiers stationed at the base were from Nigeria, Niger, and Chad.
There have not been any official reports on the death toll of this attack, although reports do suggest that Boko Haram militants opened fire on the escaping residents, burned hundreds of homes, and looted many of the stores in Baga. The villagers fled on canoes just off the shore of Lake Chad.
Ever since the radical Islamist terrorist group rose to power in 2011, Boko Haram’s militias have occupied many small towns and military bases in the state of Borno, an area home to many Boko Haram supporters, and they have continuously terrorized the northern Nigeria region. The militants have been involved in constant skirmishes with the Nigerian military these past few years. They have raided police bases and armories for vehicles and weapons, but have been continuously pushed back and held at bay by military forces.
And even though military troops have succeeded in repelling Boko Haram soldiers, the military’s strategies and brutal tactics—including extrajudicial executions and other war crimes—have alienated the local population. According to Roddy Barclay, a senior Africa analyst at Control Risks, this military brutality offers Boko Haram an advantage.
[The most recent attack in] Baga is part of the cycle of violence that draws on local grievances to accelerate recruitment to the militant cause,”
Now, Boko Haram leaders are beginning to turn their attention on the capital city of Maiduguri. The terrorist group currently controls 35,000 squared kilometers of territory in Nigeria and are planning to retake the capital after relinquishing it in 2011. If they succeed, it would be another detrimental loss for the Nigerian government.
With presidential elections in Nigeria approaching in February, violence is predicted to escalate. Boko Haram insurgents have denounced the elections as anti-Islamic, and there will be a likely decline in voter participation due to fear of further attacks in voting regions, skewing election results.