Daily Archives: February 21, 2015
The Nigerian army has retaken the north-eastern town of Baga, held by Boko Haram militants since 3 January.
In a tweet from its official account, the army said that “mopping up” operations were continuing.
It also claimed in a separate statement that it had killed many Boko Haram militants, though this has not been independently verified.
Nigeria says 150 people died when Boko Haram took Baga and nearby Doron Baga, but locals said up to 2,000 died.
Residents were left largely undefended as the military deserted when the jihadists attacked the towns.
This time, the army claims it was the militants who fled, with some drowning in Lake Chad as they tried to escape the aerial bombardment.
It added that 1,000 mines had been laid in Baga which soldiers had to negotiate before entering.
The BBC’s Will Ross in the Nigerian capital, Abuja, say other sources have confirmed that Boko Haram no longer control Baga.
The massacre there is regarded as the worst attack of Boko Haram’s six-year insurgency. Thousands fled across Lake Chad when the assault began and have since taken refuge in Chad.
Boko Haram, which controls of much of Nigeria’s north-east, has killed thousands of people in its drive to establish an Islamic state.
In recent months it has also carried out cross-border raids in neighbouring Chad, Cameroon and Niger, attacking villages and military bases.
All three countries have joined Nigeria to form a military coalition against the Islamist militants.
It is not yet clear whether other armies were involved in the recapture of Baga. However, the Chadian army spokesperson said there had been no involvement from his country’s troops.
Chad has been carrying out attacks against Boko Haram deep inside Nigeria.
The Nigerian army has been criticised by its failure to tackle the militant group, although it has recaptured some territory in recent weeks.
Last week, Nigeria retook the north-eastern towns of Monguno and Marte from the group.
Earlier this month, presidential elections were delayed for six weeks over security concerns.
The electoral commission said it made the decision after the security agencies advised there would not be enough troops available to guarantee the safety of voters.
President Goodluck Jonathan says the election will take place on 28 March. However, critics loyal to the opposition say they fear Mr Jonathan, who is running for a second term, will use the delay to hold on to power.
The election is seen as the most closely fought since the end of military rule in 1999.
A consignment of U.S. military equipment has arrived in Cameroon to aid in the fight against the Nigerian terrorist group Boko Haram. This is part of an increasing flow of international assistance to Central African nations as they prepare to deploy a regional military force to counter Boko Haram’s insurgency in Nigeria, Cameroon and Chad.
The United States Ambassador to Cameroon, Michael Hoza, said the military equipment is a sign of Washington’s firm commitment to help Cameroon counter the growing regional terrorist threat posed by Boko Haram.
“Just this morning some more equipment arrived. We have been setting up a logistic pipeline for critical equipment to assist Cameroon security forces in their battle against Boko Haram. We will continue our effort to provide assistance and advice to the Cameroonian military and security forces as they battle to defend Cameroon’s territory and protect its people,” said Hoza.
Hoza said the United States has been providing military advisors and trainers at Cameroon’s request, and that cooperation is evolving to focus more on counter-insurgency tactics.
Cameroon Defense Minister Edgard Alain Mebe Ngo’o said American assistance is vital to counter Boko Haram’s nearly six-year insurgency, which spilled over from Nigeria into Cameroon in 2013 and more recently into neighbors Chad and Niger.
He said the assistance, and the knowledge that the international community is supporting them in the fight against Boko Haram terrorism, has boosted the morale of Cameroon’s military.
Earlier this week, Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau released a new video vowing to disrupt Nigeria’s March 28 elections. The vote was delayed by six weeks to allow a new regional military push to assist Nigeria to roll back insecurity in the north, where Boko Haram says it wants to create a caliphate.
Cameroon, Chad and Niger have launched air and land operations trying to squeeze Boko Haram fighters along Nigeria’s borders. Regional military chiefs meet in Chad next week to finalize plans to deploy some 8,700 troops – which will also include soldiers from Benin.
Boko Haram has killed thousands, displaced hundreds of thousands people, attacked mosques, churches, schools and homes, and kidnapped scores of girls and young women.
The United States has declared Boko Haram a foreign terrorist organization and has placed a $7 million bounty on Shekau to help bring him to justice